$11.25M funding boost recommended for Bike Share program
Jan. 29, 2020
Funding for the city’s financially struggling Bike Share program is set to expand by $11.25 million in 2020, including a pilot program for e-bikes.
The acting president of the Toronto Parking Authority is recommending the board approve the expansion, which will be funded mostly by the province, using $9 million from the Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling Program (OMCC).
Another $500,000 is to come from Section 37 funds and $1.75 million from Toronto Parking Authority earnings.
The money will allow the Bike Share program to grow by 1,850 bicycles in 2020 and 160 stations, including a pilot project of 300 e-bikes.
The expansion will give Toronto a network of 6,850 bikes and focus on expanding into areas outside of the downtown core.
Pilot programs will be launched in North York and Scarborough.
“The expansion of Toronto’s Bike Share program outside of the core and the introduction of e-bikes is great news,” said Cycle Toronto community engagement manager Tamara Nahal. “We hear frequently from residents that they would love to use Bike Share if they had a station in their neighbourhood and many suburban councillors have called for stations in their wards.”
The expansion will surpass the five-year expansion plan of the Bike Share system established in 2016, when an objective of reaching 6,000 bikes and 600 stations was set, according to a report going to the TPA meeting on Feb. 3.
The OMCC program is a joint provincial-municipal program introduced in December 2017 to support provincial goals of encouraging commuter cycling. TPA has to match 20 per cent of the funds in order to get the provincial money.
Assuming the expansion is completed by the end of June, TPA estimates incremental operating costs will rise $1.7 million, which will be partially offset by increased ridership and advertising revenue of $1.1 million, resulting in an operating loss of $600,000.
If approved, the expansion will immediately go into effect. The TPA’s budget was approved by the city in December and the matter does not have to be voted on by city council.
According to a budget note submitted to the city, the TPA estimates that the Bike Share program will reach an annual ridership of 3.5 million by 2020, up from two million in 2018.
The service lost about $2.4 million in 2019, according to staff.