Hamilton’s bike-share scheme received a big boost after a number of city councilors voted to add it to the transit portfolio.
The 10-to-2 vote in favor at the general issues committee on Friday means the program could potentially receive annual contributions from the city, pending a council vote.
“As well as the convenience and health benefits for users, this can mean fewer motorized vehicles on our roads, reducing traffic congestion and road maintenance costs as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming,” Mayor Fred Eisenberger said in a statement.
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A boost was also given to operate the system in 2022 with city funding after councilors passed a motion revising operating costs. This motion is also subject to further approval.
Previously, city staff estimated the cash needed for the current year at $600,000 in combined operating, accessibility, network and reserve funding.
Figures for 2022 will now see the city drop around $324,000 for 8 months of operation with around $200,000 in operating costs, $36,000 for accessible bikes, $87,000 for Mobility Cloud network access.
The change drops city contributions per bike to $28 from the $55 listed in the previous staff overview.
However, beginning in 2023, the city’s commitment would revert to previously assessed totals of $302,400 in operating costs, $54,000 for accessible bicycles, $130,000 for connectivity to a mobile network, and $108,000 to build a reserve of bike-sharing capital until 2025 when the agreement is about to end.
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East Mountain Councilman Tom Jackson has been a critic of the current idea on the table, expressing concerns about upcoming budget items that could push the city’s tax rate north of 2.8%. for 2022.
“I’m not against it, but I just need to understand where that and the next two things, living wage and student labor, and the possible increase in where their wages might eventually leave us “Jackson said.
Hamilton Bike Share, a not-for-profit bike-share operator, is expected to match the city’s contributions to operating costs through 2022.
A report from city staff suggests that with more investment, the currently estimated 400,000 trips per year could grow to around 600,000 trips per year.
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So far, the program has generated around two million trips since 2015 and has some 26,000 active members.
The city suggests that those numbers mean the equivalent of 1,000 tons of carbon was reduced, along with 91 million calories burned and $1.3 million saved.
Previously, the city partnered with Uber, which essentially ran the SoBi program until it dropped the contract in 2020.
More than 7,000 people signed a petition that year asking the city council to step in and ensure the continuity of the system.
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