By: Saad Ejaz

If you are a McMaster University student or a resident in Hamilton, you have likely passed a dock of dark blue bikes appearing on city corners.

A new program by Sobi Hamilton rolled out last week which introduces new functionality that enables users to use their Presto pass on all the bikes in the fleet.

This comes after the introduction of the new Hamilton Street Railway U-Pass, a free Presto card for all McMaster Students Union members that does not charge users to access the HSR. The U-Pass is the new iteration of the university’s prior bus passes.

Chelsea Cox, the General Manager at Sobi Hamilton states that the program will help create greater ease in using the Bike Share program.

“It’s now easier than ever… it’s mostly just creating convenience for anyone who wants to carry one less card and tap in with their presto — it makes transit integration easier for the future,” said Cox.

Now with Presto integration, users can link their Presto card with their Bike Share account, and can skip the step of entering account numbers to unlock a bike at the dock. Account and payment setups follow the same format as before.

This comes a few months after the failure of the McMaster Students Union referendum to include a discounted Sobi Hamilton membership in every undergraduate’s tuition fees last Nov. The projected cost was a flat fee of $16.95 for 90 minutes of daily access.

According to SoBi’s website, one of the main concerns students raised about a universal SoBi pass was the accessibility of it, as some students may not have been able to use the bikes. SoBi is now in the works of addressing these concerns and asks those interested in contributing to reach out.

SoBi maintains that a more developed bike share program on campus would benefit all students whether they use it or not by alleviating congestion in buses and promote a healthier, more active community.

SoBi Hamilton is now offering several new opportunities for students which include discounted monthly rates and a Facebook platform to foster a cycling culture and more connections within the Hamilton community.

The Facebook platform will offer promotions and specialized content, opportunity for feedback and an avenue to discuss arrangements for big events and festivals in the city. There will also be a new model called “Priority Hub” that will be incentivizing rebound tasks that help reduce the need to bring Sobi vehicles to campus and parking at certain hubs. For instance, this could include parking bikes at particular sites for either ease of access for other or collecting of bikes by SoBi.

The program has seen a steady increase since its introduction in the Winter of 2015. 

“We have been seeing a growth in McMaster students, faculty and staff joining the program,” said Cox.

“Any opportunity we have to get more people riding bikes and trying out a healthier and environmentally sustainable mode of transportation is really big positive for us and a part of our goal and mission, and McMaster is a really big part of that,” she added.

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