Comment 95730

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2013 at 09:43:13 in reply to Comment 95714

I wanted to let you know that I value a good debate, and I'm going to wade in once I can poke my head out from the crazy amount of work I have to do, but I'll address your first point in your original rebuttal really fast.

Bike Shares ARE an amazing investment. Yes, we're putting $1.6 Million into the capital infrastructure at the onset, but your arguments about it being a "black hole" are completely and utterly erroneous. Let me break it down for you: We're spending $1.6 Million on a capital investment for a new transit project (that's what bike share is: transit). That would normally buy 2 new buses, if you're lucky. Those 2 buses then require operators - 3 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) each to run. So that's 6 FTEs - likely about $350,000 a year. And who pays that? HSR fares pay some of it, but a lot of it comes out of the operating subsidies given to the HSR by, you guessed it, taxpayers. (on a side note, I hate that term. We're citizens. Our taxes pay for things that are required to run a city.) So if we spent that $1.6 Million on, say, buses, we'd have spent $1.6 Million on capital costs, then about $1.75 Million just in staffing costs to run them, again coming out of the municipal coffers. Sure, we'd employ 6 more FTEs, but at a pretty significant ongoing cost. Now let's compare that to Bike Share.

We've spent $1.6 Million to buy the capital. As a requirement of us spending that money on their capital infrastructure, Social Bicycles has agreed to establish a not-for-profit operating system here in the city. That will likely employ 5-10 FTEs to manage the system, recruit sponsors, balance bikes etc. And guess who pays for that? User fees. Not the municipality. So there's 5-10 jobs created just in the operating side without another dime of municipal money spent. I'll reiterate that. Not Another Dime.

When it comes to "black holes of money", please give me an example? Yes, the Bixi system in Toronto had to be bailed out, but that's because rather than having Toronto put up the full capital costs of the system, it was a capital loan. Remove the interest and the loan payments, and Bixi was profitable. Bixi itself is actually a poor example because of its base structure and how closely intertwined it is with the municipal government in Montreal. A better example would be south of the border, where dozens of Bike Share programs are taking off, from New York to San Fransisco, and into smaller centres like Madison, Wisconsin and Tampa, Florida. But the best example of where these are truly economically viable comes from Washington, DC, where the great stats published regarding Capital Bike Share basically tears down your entire argument that they're not economically viable. You can find the info here: But I'll sum up the big points for you.

4 in 10 users of bike share significantly decreased the use of their car. The average user drove 523 miles (~800 km) less annually after joining bike share Bike share saved the average user $819 in transportation costs annually - resulting in a total savings of more than $15 Million across the system. Guess where money goes when it doesn't go into the gas tank? It stays in the local economy, and boosts local spending.

Check out this article: Read the links, take your time and go through the numbers and you'll see very clearly just how wrong your stance on bike share is. This has the potential to be a game changer for our city, and at $1.6 Million it is an absolute bargain. I'll get to more of your points later today if I have the time.

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