After a crowd-funding campaign and a last-minute injection of charitable dollars, Hamilton’s bike share program is back up and running.
The city and Hamilton Bike Share Inc. (HBSI) are relaunching the program Tuesday. after its near death earlier this month. The bikes, colloquially known as SoBis, been out of service since June 1.
The program, known for its blue bikes, has about 26,000 members, including 600 who have signed up since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When it started in 2015, Social Bicycles LLC ran it via the not-for-profit HBSI. In 2018, Social Bicycles became Jump Mobility, and not long after, Uber bought Jump.
Uber took over bike share operations last May, but HBSI stayed on to do the Everyone Rides Initiative, a provincially funded program that offers low-cost memberships and accessible trikes. Uber signed a one-year contract with the city in February, but said last month that it was walking away from it.
The program will operate until February using $100,000 donated from the McNally Charitable Foundation, and money from IBI Group, LiUNA, the Royal Connaught, Effort Trust, Roxborough Park Developments and Urbansolutions, plus other donated dollars, including $70,000 from an HBSI online crowdfunding campaign.
This came after three lower-city councillors volunteered to use ward-specific capital dollars to fund the program until the end of the year. That failed on a tie vote after a debate that went into the early morning.