Bixi gearing up for another ride! An update on the bike sharing service
The Bixi bicycle sharing service is gearing up to open April 15 for the 2017 season, Bixi’s ninth year of operations. The program was launched in Montreal with great fanfare in 2009 before quickly spreading to foreign cities such as London, New York City, and Melbourne. But, rapid growth is not always a good thing and Bixi declared bankruptcy in 2013. A restructured Bixi bike sharing service now services just the Montreal area. Times reached out to Bixi to find out more about the coming season.
The popularity of Bixis is attested by the annual ridership according to Bixi spokesman Pierre Parent. “Since 2014 we have grown from 3.2 million rides to 4.1 million rides per year. In 2017, our fleet includes 6200 bikes (1000 more than 2016) and 540 stations (80 more than 2016).”
For the uninitiated, Bixis are robust 3-speed bicycles designed to fit a wide range of body sizes. “Bixi is Montreal’s public bike system. It’s the bike that’s really an alternative means of urban transport. Accessible to everyone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, three seasons of the year, from April to November,” explains the Bixi website.
Docking stations found between Langelier Blvd in the east and Concordia U.’s Loyola campus to the west. Bikes can be unlocked with a key or using a credit card. Prices start at $2.95 for a 30-minute, 1-way trip. An annual membership costs $89 in 2017 and members are given a key for an infinite number of 45-minute trips for no additional charge. Various other pricing packages are available including an 24-hour rental advertised for $5.
Previously, there have been complaints about confusing signage regarding Bixi prices and also about hidden charges. There is an anecdote from 2012 about a Montreal man renting a Bixi for 24 hours to receive a whopping $101.50 bill. “That cannot happen anymore,” insists Parent. “All prices are now clearly marked on the docking stations. And since about 2014, we have capped additional charges at $30.”
As like in 2016, free rentals will be offered on certain Sundays. Parent specifies this applies, “Starting May 28 and on every last Sunday of the month through October.”
The name “Bixi” is a portmanteau, combining “Bicycle” and “Taxi.” The concept for the “made in Canada” aluminum Bixi bikes won international accolades when the service was launched by Public Bike System Company (PBSC) in 2009. As noted, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
The City of Montreal bought PBSC’s assets for $11.9 million in February 2014 to create Bixi Montreal, a non-profit entity to run bike sharing operations here. Foreign Bixi operations were spun off and sold to local businessmen Bruno Rodi who now operates these as PBSC Urban Solutions, a private company.