• eat
  • shop
  • see
  • go
  • stay
  • daytrip
  • map
  • calendar
  • transport
  • weather
  • currency
  • tofrom

Getting to the Sweet Spot in BIXI Bike Pricing

Photo by Ian Muttoo

By Amanda Yiu

Montreal-based bike-sharing company BIXI, which launched in Toronto, Ottawa, and Boston in the past few months, may be expanding to Vancouver in the near future, and plans for a 10,000-fleet New York City launch are set for next summer.

BIXI has grown rapidly since first launching in Montreal in 2009, beginning operations in Toronto, Ottawa and Boston in the past four months and rolling out overseas in 2010, in London, Melbourne and DC. The bike-sharing program is undeniably popular, with more than 3 million BIXI trips taken since the beginning of 2010.

For visitors, borrowing a bike at a pay-as-you-go rate can be a fabulous way to explore the city. But be sure to keep your ride short. A friend visiting from Australia last month made the mistake of taking out a BIXI bike in Toronto for the full day and ended up paying over $100 in usage fees. As the breakdown of non-subscriber fees (below) shows, long trips can add up quickly. (Subscribers can pay $95 for a one-year membership, waiving the $5 daily flat fee, but the same time-of-use rates still apply.)

BIXI fees for 8 hours of continuous usage:

$5 flat 24-hour access fee (includes first 30 minutes)

+ $1.50 for 31–60 min

+ $4 for 61–90 min

+ $104 for additional 6.5 hours ($8 x 13 half-hour increments)

= $113.50 before tax

Additionally, a $250 security deposit is charged to your credit card and refunded after 10 days.

BIXI makes no bones about the fact that long trips aren’t its thing. Its website states that “BIXI was created for short trips. Usage fees encourage frequent utilization for short periods of time.” If you take out a BIXI bike for two hours only, for example, the costs become much more reasonable:

BIXI fees for 2 hours of continuous usage:

$5 flat 24-hour access fee (includes first 30 minutes)

+ $1.50 for 31–60 min

+ $4 for 61–90 min

+ $8 for additional 0.5 hour

= $18.50 before tax

It’s clear that the best bang for your buck is to keep bike rentals under 30 minutes. Once you’ve paid the basic $5/day fee, you could technically get unlimited usage of the BIXI bike if you re-dock every 30 minutes or less, a fact no clearly communicated though on the rate cards at BIXI docking stations. But is this working the system or just too much work?

For all-day riding with less fuss check out traditional bike-rental options such as Curbside Cycle in Toronto, which has one-day bike rentals for $20, or Cyco’s in Ottawa, which charges $24 for a  24-hour rental.

Leave a Reply