The news that Social Bicycle Hamilton (SoBi), operated by Uber-owned Social Bicycles LLC, would be pulling out of their contract in June has been met with significant outcry.
It appears, however, that the bikes will still continue hitting our streets even if SoBi backs out of the contract, that would’ve seen them continue operations through February 2021.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger said at Tuesday’s (May 19) virtual COVID-19 media update, that it “doesn’t feel good,” to hear the news that they’re wanting to back out of the contract.
He noted that he is proud of the bike-share system, which is owned by The City of Hamilton, and the way the community has embraced it.
“It’s very popular, especially in the inner city,” Eisenberger noted, adding that the number of people who use the service on a regular basis justifies any efforts taken to ensure it stays in Hamilton.
“Whatever happens, we’re going to find a way to make it happen. Whether through contract or the city taking on what it needs to take on.”
The mayor said the city received notice of SoBi’s intention to pull out of the contract early late last week.
Earlier on Tuesday, The Hamilton Spectator reported that a memo composed by Jason Thorne, the City’s General Manager of Planning and Economic Development, stated that staff were in the process of figuring out what this means for the service and the partnership with SoBi and what steps will be taken to ensure the continuation of the service.
“A shut down of the system would impact 26,000 active members, many of whom have prepaid for services for up to one-year,” the memo said.
“There are 900 bicycles and 130 stations in operation that have no storage facility or ability to move the bikes into a storage facility, should one be found.”
It is estimated that if the city assumes operations of the SoBi system, it could cost upwards of $50,000 to $60,000 a month to run.
Photo courtesy Hamilton SoBi’s Facebook page