- The $15 million BIXI program – the largest of its kind in North America - consists of 300 bicycle stations scattered around downtown Montreal; supplying 3000 bicycles that are available to anyone with a working credit card. A BIXI user can purchase a membership for $5/day, $28/month, or $78/year. The membership entitles the rider to unlimited use of the BIXI system, providing the first 30-minutes of each trip for free. Additional charges only apply if the bicycle is used for more than 30-minutes at a time. Like Paris’ Vélib’ system - which offers 20,000 bicycles at 1,450 stations - it encourages users to take short trips to increase the user capacity.
The world’s first known bicycle sharing program, White Bicycle launched in 1960’s in the Netherlands but failed due to theft and vandalism. Other bicycle programs didn’t survive due to lack of funding; specifically the Toronto BikeShare program that ran from 2001 to 2006 ceased to exist after it was unable to secure enough funding to continue its operations.
Today however, technological advancements have made bicycle sharing a viable and potentially profitable program. I caught up with BIXI employee Olivier – who was hired by BIXI 4 weeks after its launch – and he strongly believes that the BIXI system will be very profitable, while Montreal city officials have stated that the system will pay for itself in only 3 years.