I find myself agreeing with La Presse’s Pierre Foglia about BIXI:
C’est seulement que je me demande à qui il s’adresse au juste. Je n’arrive pas à me faire une idée du client type du Bixi. Celui qui va travailler en vélo sur une base régulière? Me semble que celui-là va finir par s’en acheter un, un vélo de ville, non? Le touriste? Ne vient-on pas de dire que ce n’était pas un vélo pour se promener?
I like the idea of being able to rent bikes, and they seem to be getting good reviews in the technical sense (except from Foglia). But the high subscription rate and exponentially-increasing use rate make me wonder what kind of person would use this system and how.
As Foglia says, tourists will be easily turned off by BIXI because the system is designed to discourage long-time use. You can’t take out a bike and bring it back a few hours later unless you want your wallet sucked dry.
Commuters, meanwhile, will find the annual subscription fee expensive. You can get your own (used) bike for $78 a year and do what you want with it. Besides, the BIXI footprint is small (I don’t even have one near where I live), and a lot of people will find they’re coming from or going to a place where BIXI can’t go (like NDG).
I just don’t get the exploding scale. It’s backwards to the way economics work. You want to reward customers for purchasing something in bulk, not punish them.
Something tells me a lot of people are going to be spending half their time checking their watches and looking for the closest BIXI station to top up their ride and give themselves another half hour free. As long as they keep bringing it to a station every half hour, BIXI users can keep the bikes for as long as they want.
Does that make sense?
Right now, we’re still in the honeymoon phase, with BIXI reviews from journalists who wouldn’t spend more than half an hour toying with it even if it wasn’t time-limited. We’ll see after this year (or maybe next) whether regular people will find a use for this service.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, I support the idea behind a bicycle-rental system, even one that is partially subsidized by the government. My issue is with the fare structure that uses an exponentially-increasing scale instead of one that uses a flat per-hour rate.