An Update on Bike Share

An Update on Bike Share

On June 15th, Bike Share Toronto set a new record for daily ridership with 30,442 trips in a single day. Given the convenience and popularity of the program, that number will surely be eclipsed shortly. Behind the scenes, however, a lot is at stake for Bike Share’s continued growth and success.

At the June City Council meeting, The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) and the City of Toronto’s new net income sharing formula was approved. The TPA is a public agency that currently oversees the increasingly popular Bike Share Toronto. As affordability and congestion continue to impact the daily lives of Torontonians, people have been discovering the practicality of Bike Share Toronto which is contributing to the multi-modal shift that Toronto’s TransformTO plan hinges on.

This new income sharing formula represents the agreement that was in place prior to 2017, with the TPA providing 75% of its generated revenue put towards its capital needs. The TPA has contributed a total of $1.4 billion to the city since 2002 so it is surprising that it is forecasting a state-of-good-repair (SOGR) of over $300 million over the next ten years to maintain their parking garages. In 2022, TPA generated $24,625,204 million in gross revenue for their inventory of over 40,000 parking spaces. This represents just $1.75 per parking spot per day.

In the TPA’s pitch to revert back to its ‘legacy funding formula’, it focused on its expanded operating and capital needs for expanding Bike Share Toronto and Toronto’s EV Charging program. From their report, TPA outlines that since 2017, they invested $45.6 million in the capital expansion of Bike Share Toronto and absorbed operating losses of $20.0 million. As a public agency of the City of Toronto, it is baffling that it views the delivery of a critical public program as an ‘operating loss’ versus focusing on its success: moving over 16,000 people a day on bikes (2023 annual ridership was almost 6 million) and being an integral part of the TransformTO’s goal of moving 75% of all trips under 5 km by active modes of transportation.

As the city faces an affordability and congestion crisis, it is time to revisit how our public space is used. Bike Share Toronto as an integral part of the City’s public transportation network and is helping the City deliver against its TransformTO objectives as well as reduce the city’s choking congestion by enabling more people across the city to access and ride a bike. 

Now that the TPA has the new funding formula they pushed for, Cycle Toronto will continue to build support for a more ambitious and equitable Bike Share Toronto Four Year Expansion Plan (2026-2030). There remain far too many areas with little access to Bike Share stations, and the e-fleet needs to be expanded to help connect more people to their destinations. To improve access to Toronto Bike Share, it must be as affordable as it is convenient to use. We successfully advocated for low income passes, and would like this to be expanded as well as have the program be included in the ONE fare system. Bike Share Toronto is a crucial public program that is helping Toronto meet its TransformTO climate action goals as well as alleviate traffic congestion by moving people away from single car use occupancy.

(A man whizzes by a Bike Share Super Station downtown. Image: Bike Share)

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