News / Toronto

Toronto's Bike Share program to get new equipment this spring

The parking authority started accepting proposals last year from companies interested in handling the overhaul.

The equipment currently used was supplied by BIXI and Toronto needed a new provider in order to expand the program.

torstar news service

The equipment currently used was supplied by BIXI and Toronto needed a new provider in order to expand the program.

Toronto’s Bike Share program is about to get a serious tune-up that may include selling it off and starting from scratch.  

New equipment is expected to hit streets this spring, and officials at the Toronto Parking Authority won’t release exact details until later this month. But users can at least look forward to mobile payment technology — with the potential for Presto card integration — and the ability to lock bikes up near stations if they’re full, said Marie Casista, the parking authority’s vice-president of real estate, development and marketing.

New stations are also planned outside the downtown core and near major transit hubs. 

The parking authority started accepting proposals last year from companies interested in handling the overhaul. None of what’s been received has been made public, but the authority set specific requirements for anyone looking to get involved, Casista said. The ability to offer mobile payment options was among them.

“The equipment we use currently was supplied by BIXI and it’s no longer available. So for us to expand we needed to find a company we can work with over the long term,” she said. 

Since BIXI first landed in Toronto in 2011, bike-sharing technology has changed gears. When Hamilton launched its Sobi bike program last year, for example, it opted for newer “smart bike” technology that eschews the bulky docks associated with BIXI in favour of on-board payment and GPS systems. 

The newer bikes were less costly to roll out, allowing Sobi to expand its coverage, and have been a hit with riders. The service already boasts 25 per cent more members than Toronto Bike Share. Toronto’s bike share, which was absorbed by the parking authority after BIXI went bankrupt in 2014, has been slower to change. 

The latest expansion — which doesn’t have a dollar figure yet — will be helped by a $4.9-million investment from the province and Metrolinx.