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City of Toronto, Astral Out-of-Home take over bike sharing service

The City of Toronto has reached an agreement with PBSC Urban Solutions of Montreal to take over the operation of the bicycle sharing service formerly known as Bixi Bikes. The service, which consists of 1,000 bicycles and a collection of 80 parking stations in downtown Toronto, will be operated by the Toronto Parking Authority from the spring of 2014. According to the City Council, the deal was made possible by a submission of $5 million from Astral Out-of-Home through the city's Coordinated Street Furniture program. Astral Out-of-Home, a division of Bell Media, will convert future expenditures designated for the program's automatic public toilets to support the bicycle program. The street furniture program, launched in 2007, encompasses transit shelters, litter bins, newspaper bins, information pillars, public posting columns, bicycle racks and benches. Astral holds a 20-year contract on this program.

"Astral Out-of-Home has worked closely with the City of Toronto for the past seven years, and with the support of Bell Media we are pleased to help ensure the continued operation of the city's bike share program," said Ron Hutchinson, vice-president of real estate for Astral Out-of-Home. "Bell Media has made this decision because of its commitment to support solutions that are beneficial to Toronto's residents and city streets."

In related news, Arts & Communications of Toronto has been hired by the Toronto Parking Authority to secure corporate partners for the bicycle sharing program.

"A&C has a track record working successfully with municipal properties in the context of sponsorship and understand the perspectives of the many stakeholders involved," said agency president Bonnie Hillman. "We know that the bicycle share program is high profile and seen as an important service by many Torontonians. We're excited to find innovative partnerships that will sustain the program."

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