Fewer trips taken on Bixis, but board of directors pleased
Bixi's board of directors has released a mid-season update on its 2014 statistics, and while ridership is down this year, the board says it's satisfied with the season so far.
The bike-sharing service is trying to stay afloat after being plagued with financial problems.
Overall, about 90,000 fewer trips were taken so far this year on Bixis in Montreal than were taken on average between 2009 and 2013.
April was a particularly tough month – nearly 66,000 less Bixis were taken out for a spin.
Take a look at all the latest Bixi numbers in this infographic
Still, the vice president of the board says the big picture is actually reassuring -- especially since bixi had virtually no promotion or advertising this season.
“We're encouraged. We're at over 90 per cent of where we were last year. For us, that's a major accomplishment,” said Sylvia Morin, vice-president of the board.
At a news conference Wednesday, the board says the season started under a cloud of uncertainty because of the financial woes that Bixi has been facing.
Bad weather was mentioned as a possible explanation for the dip in rides, as well as the bad press Bixi has been getting due to the aforementioned financial troubles.
“We attribute most of that to the uncertainty, the fact that the weather was not great for a certain period of time,” said Morin. “We really didn't know what to expect. There has been a lot of bad press around the bike-sharing system.”
They also said that promotion and advertising has been virtually eliminated this season because of budgetary constraints, but despite all these various factors, they say they're quite satisfied overall with the numbers that they've seen over the past four months.
“We're seeing now are trends that are more encouraging and we're going from there,” said Morin.
Projet Montreal Transport Critic Craig Sauve said generally speaking the numbers are encouraging, and he says that he hopes council will vote in favour of keeping Bixi alive and doing everything possible to sustain it.
“It shows that despite all the bad publicity the may have gotten, the bad weather, and the entire reorganization that Bixi's done, that a lot of Montrealers still take Bixi,” he said.
But there has been some criticism from some councillors including Marvin Rotrand, who is unsure about just how much money the city should continue to invest in Bixi.
“Ridership is down -- not enormously, but it's down. The number of subscribers is down and that's worrisome, and we still don't know things like revenues and expenses, what the promotional plan is, how they're trying to get more sponsors,” he said.
Bixi wants council to approve an additional $360,000 in funding to cover various expenses, including system software updates.
The city's executive committee member in charge of transport, Aref Salem, said he has faith in the board.
“They are the most transparent people that we can have. These guys are working for the first year on a project where we gave them the mandate in March. You have to remember they didn't start five years ago,” said Salem.
Salem said the city is hoping what’s left of the Bixi season will give their numbers a boost.
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