Toronto mayor Rob Ford today announced Bixi Car, the world's first-ever car-sharing system. Just days before the Toronto launch of Bixi Bike – the famous public-bike sharing system that allows an entire city to share in a fleet of bicycles numbering in the hundreds – the feisty mayor stole the spotlight, announcing a fleet of cars to be enjoyed by Torontonians "from the 427 to Kingston Road."
During a press conference held in Etobicoke, Mr. Ford emerged from the Cloverdale Mall clutching a bag from the Payless ShoeSource and walked up to the trunk of a '98 Buick Century painted in black and grey Bixi livery. The Mayor inserted two loonies in a slot next to the gas tank, stepped into the driver's seat and started the engine. He then rolled down the window to take questions from a phalanx of media as the world's first public car idled.
"It's like the bike program," an ebullient mayor said. "Just a $1.50 for an hour of driving, which covers gas and maintenance." Ford then revved the engine playfully, adding "I see this as one of the greatest expansions of public service in Toronto's history."
The Bixi Car fleet is still small, consisting only of the aforementioned Buick, which was donated by the mayor, and a 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, which was donated by Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. But city officials are courting donations from civic-minded Torontonians to boost the fleet's numbers.
The city is also considering beefing up the fleet with decommissioned garbage trucks resulting from privatization of garbage collection.
"It's something we're looking at," Mayor Ford said. "We'll see what we can get on the open market. But let's remember who owns the garbage trucks to begin with – taxpayers. And if it makes more sense to let taxpayers drive trucks they own, then that's what we're going to do."
The mayor then backed the Bixi car out of its spot and drove to Sherway Gardens. When he emerged from Home Depot carrying a can of driveway sealant, the mayor discovered that his Bixi car was gone – driven off by a fellow citizen, apparently. But not to worry – only two parking spots away, the mayor spotted the city's other Bixi car, which was parked minutes earlier by his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, who was patrolling Home Depot's spray-paint section for at-risk youth.
Mayor Ford inserted more loonies, started it up and took one last question: Would the Bixi cars add to the city's mounting gridlock woes? The mayor shook his head. The solution to traffic snarls, he said, lay in finding greater "driving efficiencies."
"If some drivers didn't wait for that extra second when the light turned green," he explained, "or didn't stop at a crosswalk when a pedestrian is still five feet from the road, I think there would be a lot less traffic in this city. You can't blame everything on the car, you know."
With that, the mayor put the Bixi car in drive and headed north toward Rexdale.
Special to The Globe and Mail