Why I Will Never Use Bixi Bikes... Here's How to Fix it
One of my best friends loves the Bixi Bike. I can't understand how after we spent 3 hours trying to return them to docking stations in Montreal's Biosphere. I guess some people just don't learn very well. I'm joking but I do constantly send him photos of Bixi bike station with no bikes just to tease him how ineffective the system is.
So here's why Bixi Bikes are flawed and should discontinue if they keep losing money.
1. It doesn't make sense financially.
If I buy a bike it costs me $100-$200 on the legit market. I've heard some people buying bikes for $40 on the black market. But let's assume you buy a bike that costs quite a lot, say $200. If you ride it for 2 years, it costs you $8.33 per month for transport anywhere in the city. But wait, there's a salvage value to your bike. Assuming you didn't damage it, you can probably sell it for $150. Minus $50 for maintenance costs. I actually bought a bike for $90 and sold it for $170 once after using it for a year, just so you know. Anyways, if you sell your bike for $150, your total cost for the bike is effectively $100 depreciated over 24 months so that's $4.17 a month for all your downtown transportation costs.
Bike cost: $200 Maintenance cost: $50 Salvage value: $150 Total cost depreciated over 2 years: $100 Monthly Cost: $4.17
Compare that to Bixi cost of $95 plus tax.
Annual total cost: $107.35 Monthly cost: $8.95
That's assuming you only ride 30 minute at a time so your rides are free. Its fee structure is complicated and is here:
A trip under 30 minutes will not cost you any usage fees besides the system access fees. However, a longer trip will cost you usage fees. 24-hour access example: 1 hour 22 minutes trip $5 (system access fees) + $1.50 + $4.00 = $10.50 1 hour 50 minutes trip $5 (system access fees) + $1.50 + $4.00 + $8.00 = $18.50 2 hour 5 minutes trip $5 (system access fees) + $1.50 + $4.00 + $8.00 + $8.00 = $26.50
First of all, it's so confusing. What are Bixi system access fee, usage fee, and subscription fee? Confusing nomenclature... so I'm just going to assume no system access fee and no usage fee, just that $107 annual cost.
So what does this mean? It's not going to save you any money by buying a Bixi membership.
2. It's entirely inconvenient.
Well, maybe it's more convenient? No. Do you like to commute to work and one day suddenly don't have the bike you thought you had? Now you're late. That's horrible to not have certainty like that. I like my things to be dependable.
Having hung out with a Bixi lover, I've seen him have trouble returning a Bixi to a location 10% of the time. And doing it without a Bixi app is almost unthinkable, riding around trying to find a station and hoping it isn't full.
But that's not all, if you have a meeting somewhere you need to actually walk from 5 to 10 minutes from the docking station to the meeting location. That is if the docking station isn't full. If it is, guess what? You're late! The whole beauty of a bike is you're consistently on time because traffic will not affect you. But now you need to factor in the trouble of finding a docking station and hoping it's not full. Furthermore, what if your meeting location didn't have docking station? You can't even use a Bixi. You need to take the TTC or take a taxi.
And I can't tell you how restrictive the return process is. You can't stop over and buy groceries. You can't just pull over somewhere and lock it there until you're ready to return it.
Bixi is too limiting to use if you actually live in the city. I think it would be good for tourists. But trying getting it to work as a tourist is crazy. The instructions are so complicated and you think you need to be a member or something. It's just super confusing but supposedly you can ride it for $5 a day or something. That's a great deal if I can get it to work.
3. It's not safe.
Bixi is nice because it has a basket if you need to carry stuff like a lady and it has lights. But it doesn't have a helmet. Isn't that dangerous? You should supply helmets.
I know a lot of people don't ride those bikes because they think riding in the city is too dangerous. They'd never ride it without a helmet either.
How to fix it.
Here are the things that need to be changed that will make me use it.
Make it easier to understand how to use it. It's more complicated than Microsoft's Windows Editions. Can you just make it like, "Heya! Are you a tourist? It's $5 a day. Put your credit card in for a security deposit" or "Hiyo! Are you a member? You know what to do! Peace!" Do away with the complicated rules. It's as complicated as Bell's phone plan except you don't have anyone there explaining it to you.
Reduce the limitations of returning it to those stations and timing. Can't you tag these bikes so people can lock them and drop them off anywhere? Pay an additional fee to lock the bike down so others can't borrow it if you still need it. Mercedes' Car2Go can probably give you some tips.
Make it a monthly subscription model. I don't want to sign a year contract. Look if you need a contract to keep your customers loyal, you really don't have a good product man. As a consumer, I don't like signing contracts. If you need a legal document to keep your customers... it's like those shady sales people that sell you something you don't want but are stuck with because you're locked into it. Contracts are for commodities.
I am really surprised some people love Bixi... oh dear.