Celebrating 10 Years of Bike Share Toronto
Recent Record-Breaking Usage, System Expansion Prove Program’s Best Days are Still Ahead
This month, Bike Share Toronto (BST) celebrates its 10th anniversary. In 10 years of operation, more than 1 million users have taken more than 12.5M trips – an incredible feat!
The impact BST has had on Torontonians’ quality of life and the overall Toronto transportation landscape, including providing residents with an inexpensive and convenient form of transit and enabling the city to reach ever closer to its environmental goals, is immense. As the day-to-day operator of the program, we are extremely proud to be able to play a role in helping support and expand this essential form of mobility for city residents. Since assuming operations of the Bike Share Toronto program in early 2017, Shift Transit has overseen significant program growth, including triple-digit growth in trips and membership.
To celebrate a decade of service, we decided to go back in time and retrace the program’s key milestones, from service launch to its most recent expansion in 2020, bringing the system’s total footprint to 625 stations and 6,850 bikes.
The first 10 years…
The service launches as BIXI Toronto, featuring 80 stations and 1,000 bikes. The program’s initial service area covers the inner core of downtown Toronto. In 2013-2014, the City of Toronto takes control of the program with management ultimately placed in the hands of the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA). The program is renamed Bike Share Toronto.
In 2015, Metrolinx and TPA announce that they have secured funding to double the size of the system over a 5-year period. At the time, there are 4,000 active users of the program. Expansion begins in the summer of 2016, adding 120 stations and 1,000 bikes to the system’s overall footprint.
In April 2017, Shift Transit assumes operations of the day-to-day management of the BST program. Core responsibilities include station installs, bike and station maintenance, bike and station repair, rebalancing, customer care, and marketing and sales.
Almost immediately after taking operational reins of the program, Shift Transit is tasked with overseeing a 70 station/700 bike expansion. By the end of the year, Bike Share Toronto features a total of 270 stations and 2,750 bikes across Toronto.
With the growth in the size of the system, trips double Y-o-Y in May 2017. On June 21, 2017, the program hits 6,491 trips, a single-day record. Little did we know that we would consistently double that mark in May 2021!
Kicking our marketing efforts into high-gear, BST celebrates Bike to Work Day, another Free Ride Wednesday series and more record-breaking ridership – with 219,968 trips in May alone, yet again doubling the program’s previous record. By the end of the year, the system eclipses 1.9M trips, growing 27% Y-o-Y.
In the midst of this record-breaking success, the City of Toronto announces another expansion, increasing the size of the system to 360 stations and 3,750 bikes.
In August 2019, Bike Share Toronto cracks 400k trips in a month for the 1st time in system history. This increase in demand coincides with another system expansion, adding an additional 1,250 bikes and 105 stations to the system’s footprint. This marks the 3rd expansion in 3 years with Shift Transit at the operational helm, growing BST to 465 stations and 5,000 bikes.
By November of 2019, the service eclipses 2M trips for the first time in history and ends the year surpassing 2.4 million rides. Since taking over day-to-day operations of the service, Shift Transit has overseen a 60% increase in ridership in just two years.
With the emergence of COVID in early 2020, Shift Transit takes immediate action to ensure the safety and security of our staff and customers, outfitting our teams with Personal Protective Equipment, revamping our cleaning protocols, and increasing our cleaning frequencies.
Throughout the pandemic, Bike Share Toronto remains available for customer use and is designated an essential transportation service by city government. It’s place as a fixture in the fabric of every-day Toronto life becomes crystal clear throughout the year, with the service smashing every single major KPI, including:
In addition, with most people now working from home, BST usage patterns dramatically changed, including a 65% increase in weekend trips. Propelled by ActiveTO and the city’s desire to create safe streets for recreation, Torontonians looked to BST for some escape and exercise, spurring an 85% increase in usage along ActiveTO routes. And Shift Transit met our new customers where they now were, creating new station valets alongside many of the ActiveTO pathways to provide superior customer service.
And with the passing of another year, Shift Transit oversaw another BST expansion, adding an additional 160 stations and 1,850 bikes. At 625 stations and 6,850 bikes, BST becomes the 3rd largest bikeshare program in North America. This latest expansion represents a 228% increase in system growth since Shift Transit took over the program in 2017.
Due to our success overseeing the program, Shift Transit is awarded a 5-year contract extension by the TPA to continue managing day-to-day operations of BST.
The next 10 years…
While 2020 was enormously successful for BST, we know that the program’s best days are still ahead. In fact, BST set its daily ridership record in mid-May, surpassing 27k trips for the first time ever. This is an incredible accomplishment given that we all continue to deal with various COVID-related restrictions and obstacles.
Based on these past few years of resounding success, TPA announced in May 2021 that they were seeking to secure funding to expand BST to 1,000 stations and 10,000 bikes (including 2,000 e-bikes) by 2023. This would be an incredible achievement, ensuring that the future of BST remains extremely bright!
Happy 10th Anniversary Bike Share Toronto! We can’t wait to celebrate another 10!!