After the last post I did a bit of research on how the Bixi system is going to work - though I've only been able to access the freaking website once, briefly. Way to go people, you're really gonna sell the service this way.
According to Stationnement Montréal (the organization that manages Montreal's parking - and who the hell knew it was a private company? I sure as hell didn't. What's with that exactly? Subcontracting parking services? They do that? I guess I'm behind the times.), the concept is that the bikes serve as taxis. You pick it up at one place and drop it at your destination (or as close to your destination as the Bixi parking is).
Cost? $78 for a yearly pass (monthly and daily passes exist too), and your first half hour is free, then it costs progressively more as you rack up time. Here is the pricing according to About.com, the official Bixi Montreal site being, as usual, unavailable...
Prices for 2009 are currently set at:
$78 for a yearly pass (online subscription only, approved after confirming $250 credit card fund verification)
$28 for a monthly pass (online subscription only, approved after confirming $250 credit card fund verification)
$5 for a 24-hour day pass (paid at docking station, approved after confirming $250 credit card fund verification)
After paying the basic yearly, monthly or daily fee, the customer is then charged for time usage as follows:
free for the first 30 minutes
$1.50 for the second 30 minutes
$3 for the third 30 minutes (which equals $4.50 for 60 to 90 minutes of use)
$6 for the fourth and subsequent 30 minutes (which equals $10.50 for 90 to 120 minutes of use or more)
Not that expensive all in all...
I'm thinking that most people won't be using the Bixis during the winter - there aren't that many hard core cyclists in Montreal and hardcore bikers own their bikes, so actually it's more like $78 for six months (and for chrissake, just round it up to $80 why dontcha - we know the theory that people will think it's cheap if it costs less than a "0" number, hence the "50 low payments of $49.99". However, despite what y'all think, we're not complete morons) .
Myself, if I have to go a kilometer or two, or even three or five, I'd much rather walk it than spend money on using a bike. Downtown. In traffic.
And if you expect to use it enough to make the $78 + extra fees worthwhile, wouldn't you have your own bike? People who are sold on cycling as a means of transportation have their own. Hell, most people have a bike period. It might not get much (if any) use but it's there. I would be the case in point... Yep. There it stands on its poor flat tires waiting for me to look at it and think, hey, maybe I should actually use this thing. Pining for the open road, it is, waiting for me to bestow a loving glance on it's boring beige frame. Gonna happen? I wouldn't bet my savings on it. But I digress.
As for the usual taxi using population, I don't much see Mr. Businessman in suit and tie hopping onto a Bixi to get to his three martini lunch. Nope. Somehow I'm thinking not.
That leaves what? Tourists? That might work. Though heaven help them cycling in Montreal traffic. It seems we drive like maniacs in Montreal - even the cyclists in the bike lanes drive like maniacs. I don't see it, but I guess a tourist on a bike might, poor thing.
Update on the previous post regarding the astroturfing: Blogger Patrick Dion (French only) was one of those taken for a ride (pardon the pun - I swear it was unintentional).
In his (very loosely translated) words:
I had written about the quality of the A vélo citoyens! blog... I was part of the Facebook group and had been made an "officer" of the group because of my praise of the project. I didn't really understand why it was such a big deal. Until I read the following sentence from the interview Patrick Lagace [y'all need to learn French you do!] did with Michel Philibert, director of communications for Stationnement de Montréal: "The virus [?? not sure if that's the term in English, but it's the French one] strategy is part of publicity. It wasn't manipulation. Manipulation is mercantile. Stationnement de Montréal is private but Bixi is a public service. We want it to work"
And then it hit me. Not manipulation? Of course it's manipulation. I was misled, my name was used without my knowledge to popularize a service, and completely for free. I was used for publicity purposes, they used my words without paying me, and without my having any knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes. I was used, duped, because among other things, I have a voice on the Web.