Opinion: Vancouver should abandon costly bike-share program when contract up


In July 2016, the City of Vancouver launched Mobi, a bike share program designed to increase daily bicycle use and “fill a gap in the transportation system” while moving toward the greater goal of a “green” city, as Mayor Gregor Robertson put it. And, while Mobi may appear to deliver benefits, the mayor’s vision for clean two-wheeled transit may not be all that it seems. It turns out that those benefits come with a high price tag and high risk.

The City of Vancouver is funding a private company, Vancouver Bike Share Inc., to the tune of millions of dollars over the next five years to operate Mobi. The City will receive an undisclosed percentage of revenue for each bike used during the first five years of the bike share operation. Mobi secured a sponsor last December with Shaw committing to a five-year partnership. Shaw agreed to pay Mobi an undisclosed amount of money and provide Wi-Fi at many stations in exchange for Shaw branding on all bikes and stations.

With only 1,500 bicycles, the startup cost of $5 million, paid by the taxpayers of Vancouver, is steep. On top of this cost is $800,000 in foregone revenue from metered parking annually to make space for the bike racks, as well as an additional $500,000 a year in subsidies for staffing and other costs. Of course, we’re told making a profit is not the purpose of the program. Vancouver’s general manager of engineering, Jerry Dobrovolny, has said mobility, not profit, is the goal of the bike share.

While the City of Vancouver is largely funding Mobi out of tax proceeds, Toronto signed a sponsorship deal in 2014 with TD Bank to “cover all operating costs” for Bike Share Toronto. Ottawa also recently launched VeloGo and does not provide funding. Vancouver has …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

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