Bixi (company)

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For the Chinese stone tortoise, see Bixi (tortoise). For current Bixi system in Montreal, see Bixi Montreal. For other former Bixi systems, see PBSC Urban Solutions.
Privately held
Successor PBSC Urban Solutions
Founded 2008
Defunct 2014
Headquarters Montreal, Canada
Area served
Services Bicycle sharing system
Revenue Increase CAD 51 million (FY 2011)[1]
Increase CAD 1.5 million (FY 2011) [1]

Bixi, officially Société de Vélo en Libre-Service, was a not-for-profit and public bicycle sharing system developed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[2][3]

After the 2008 implementation of the system in Montreal, Bixi began expanding around the world. Bixi systems are now found across North America. Bixi equipment is used in several Bicycle Share systems in North America, most of which are operated by Motivate. Bixi systems have also been installed in London, England and Melbourne, Australia.

On January 20, 2014, Bixi Montreal filed for bankruptcy.[4] Over the course of 2014, Bruno Rodi purchased the international division of Bixi and renamed it PBSC Urban Solutions. Luc Sabbatini became CEO of the company in January 2015.[5]

The name Bixi is a portmanteau of bicycle and taxi.


In 2007, the city of Montreal published the "Reinvent Montreal" transportation plan, which featured a bike sharing system as a method of reducing automobile dependence. To design and operate the new system, the city created the Public Bike System Company (PBSC), a private non-profit company overseen by Stationnement de Montréal, a private enterprise serving as the Montreal Parking authority.[6]

In May 2009, the system began operation in Montreal, with 3000 bicycles and 300 stations.

From June to September 2009, the system was introduced in a pilot study in Ottawa/Gatineau.[7] This was followed by operations in Melbourne, Australia from May 2010,[8] Minneapolis (MN), in June 2010,[9] and London in July 2010.[10] Bixi launched on the Washington State University campus in August 2010, in Washington, D.C. & Arlington under the name "Capital Bikeshare" in September 2010, and in Boston under the name "Hubway" in July 2011.

In January 2014 the company filed for bankruptcy in Montreal citing $46 million in debt. Part of the issue in the bankruptcy was that Chicago and New York were withholding $5 million in payments because of software issues with the docking stations.[11]


A Bixi user accessing Bixi information using his mobile phone.
  • 8D Technologies developed the entire technological platform behind the Bixi system, including the wireless bike station terminals, the RFID bike dock technology and all software systems.[12][13][14][15] The system runs on solar energy to reduce environmental impact and maximize the system’s overall energy efficiency. 8D also created the Spotcycle bike-share smartphone app that locates and shows the status of bike stations close to the users.[16]
  • Michel Dallaire created the design of the physical components.[17][18]
  • Robotics Design created the modular bike dock and the intelligent locking system.[19]
  • Cycles Devinci manufactures Bixi bikes in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec.[20]
  • Rio Tinto Alcan is the title sponsor of the BIXI program, as well as providing aluminium for the bikes.[21]
  • Morrow Communications.[22]
  • Michel Gourdeau suggested the name Bixi, a portmanteau of bicycle and taxi, which was selected by a majority of the people who participated in a contest organized by the city of Montreal.

2014 bankruptcy[edit]

Main article: PBSC Urban Solutions

In January 2014, Bixi filed for bankruptcy in Montreal citing $46 million in debt. Part of the issue in the bankruptcy was that Chicago and New York were withholding $5 million in payments because of software issues with the docking stations.[11] In February 2014, the city of Montreal bought all Bixi assets, with the intention of selling the international division of the bankrupt company.[23] On April 9, 2014, Bruno Rodi, a Quebec businessman, bought Bixi's international division for $4 million[24] and renamed it PBSC Urban Solutions.[25][26]

Operational difficulties[edit]

Several cities experienced hurdles in implementing BIXI systems.

A trial implementation in Ottawa and Gatineau took place in the summer of 2009, with 50 bikes and four stations available until September 2009. While the trial was successful, they did not return in 2010 since no company wanted to manage the project as the National Capital Commission wanted the contractor to buy the bicycles and locking stations.[27] The project was revived, however, and 100 bikes and 10 stations were launched in spring 2011.[28]

Bixi's franchise in central Boston includes the right to negotiate to expand the system to neighboring municipalities. Central Boston will be served by a network that includes 2,500 bikes, and 290 stations with 3,750 docking spaces, with the potential to expand to a 5,000-bike system. The system was delayed, partly because of a lack of funding, but launched in Spring 2011 with 610 bikes and 61 stations.[29] It has since grown into the neighboring communities of Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville. They had initially planned to set up a BIXI system directly, but now are using Alta Bicycle Share of Portland, Oregon[30] to set it up.[28] Alta Bicycle Share is a sister company of Alta Planning + Design,[31] undertaking all the services to create and manage bicycle sharing systems. Alta Bicycle Share uses the same system of bicycles and stations that are used in BIXI through the Public Bike System Company.[32]

The BIXI system in Montreal experienced some initial difficulties less than two months after its introduction in 2009, with damage and vandalism to some of the bikes. The newspaper La Presse reported on July 5, 2009 that one in five bikes had been damaged and 15% of bike racks are defective. Stationnement de Montréal communications director Michel Philibert stated the organization plans to reinforce racks and is testing prototype designs.[33] Designer Michel Dallaire stated it never occurred to him that people would try to break the stations to steal bikes. [18] There have since been no significant damage or vandalism issues reported in any of the installations of BIXI.

In 2012 a legal dispute over software from 8D Technologies brought implementation delays for Chattanooga, New York and San Francisco.[34]

In 2013 it was reported that the Toronto Bixi system is facing financial troubles and will be operated by Toronto Parking Authority in Spring 2014 under a different name. The system has only paid back $600,000 of its $4,500,000 start up loan.[35] The unexpectedly rapid expansion of export business created cash flow problems for the parent company, PBSC Urban Solutions, who attempted to sell the international operations in June.[36]


  • Bixi was ranked 19th in Time Magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2008.[37]
  • Bixi won the Eco-Design award from INTÉRIEURS FERDIE.[38]
  • Bixi was awarded the 2009 Gold Edison for Energy and Sustainability.[39]
  • Bixi was awarded Bronze in the transport category for International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) for the Bixi bike, next to the all new BMW Z4 Roadster.
  • Awarded Gold price for Prix de leadership in the Organisme Sans But Lucratif (OSBL) category of the Canadian public sector.
  • Bixi is a finalist for the "Prix Québécois de l’entreprise citoyenne".
  • 2010 Project of the Year award from PMI-Montréal, and a second Project of the year 2010 award in the emerging sector category (won by Public Bike System Company, supported by the City of Montreal for the Bixi project).
  • Bixi was awarded the 2010 GOOD DESIGN Awards.[40]


A study published in the American Journal of Public Health reports observing[41]

a greater likelihood of cycling for those exposed to the public bicycle share program after the second season of implementation (odds ratio = 2.86; 95% confidence interval = 1.85, 4.42) after we controlled for weather, built environment, and individual variables.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Montreal rap group Da Gryptions had a viral hit song and video in the summer of 2010 titled "The Bixi Anthem"[42] which was a tribute to the bike system.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Société de vélo en libre-service: États financiers" (PDF). PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ Austen, Ian (20 January 2014). "Canadian Company Behind Bike-Sharing Programs Seeks Bankruptcy Protection". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Bixi goes bust in Montreal, files for bankruptcy protection". Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  5. ^ "Bixi: PBSC Urban Solutions brings bike-sharing to the world (Part 3)". Montreal Gazette. 2015-10-23. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  6. ^ Riga, Andy (May 17, 2010). "City insists taxpayers will still come ahead with Bixi". Montreal Gazette. Canwest. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  7. ^ "A bicycle built for sharing". Ottawa Citizen. 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2009-06-10. [dead link]
  8. ^ "First international launch: BIXI's rolling in Melbourne". 
  9. ^ "BIXI - News". Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  10. ^ "London saddles up for new bike hire scheme". BBC News. 2010-07-30. 
  11. ^ a b "Citi Bike supplier rides into bankruptcy". Crain's New York Business. Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 
  12. ^ Mc Kenna, Alain (21 November 2008). "La technologie québécoise intéresse les étrangers". La Presse. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  13. ^ Swedberg, Claire (17 July 2008). "Montreal RFID-enabled Bike Project Picks Up Speed". RFID Journal. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  14. ^ Lau, Kathleen (10 November 2008). "Wireless, solar power drives Montreal bike rentals". IT World Canada. ITWC. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  15. ^ Beaulieu, Alain (22 October 2008). "8D: la nouvelle dimension du vélo urbain". Direction informatique. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  17. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  18. ^ a b HALFNIGHT, ANDREW (August 17, 2009). "Picking the brain of Bixi's inventor". Montreal Gazette. Canwest. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  19. ^ "roboticsDesign". roboticsDesign. Archived from the original on 2011-03-13. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  20. ^ "" (in French). Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  21. ^ "Rio Tinto Alcan and BIXI: a partnership on a roll" (Press release). Rio Tinto Alcan. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  22. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  23. ^ "Montréal acquiert BIXI". Le Devoir. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2016. 
  24. ^ Vailles, Francis (10 April 2014). "Bruno Rodi met la main sur Bixi international". La Presse. Retrieved 31 August 2016. 
  25. ^ "Bixi: PBSC Urban Solutions brings bike-sharing to the world (Part 3)". Montreal Gazette. 2015-10-23. Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  26. ^ Austen, Ian (Jan 9, 2015). "Uphill Push to Save a Bike-Share Pioneer". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "Public Transit in Ottawa: Bixi bike-rental program in Ottawa hits a snag". 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  28. ^ a b "BIXI conquers a third capital: our system in the heart of the capital of Canada in 2011!". 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  29. ^ "Metro Boston Bike Share Program". Metropolitan Area Planning Council. 2010-12-08. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  30. ^ "Home". Alta Bicycle Share. Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  31. ^ "Alta Planning & Design - Bicycle, Pedestrian, Greenway & Trail Projects". Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  32. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2011-04-11. 
  33. ^ Cameron, Daphné (2009-07-05). "Robuste, le Bixi?". La Presse (in French). Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  34. ^ 8d Technologies Sues Bixi Public Bikeshare, 2012 April 30
  35. ^
  36. ^ Could Bixi's Financial Problems Affect Bike-Share in New York, D.C. and Beyond? by SARAH GOODYEAR,, 7 OCT, 2013
  37. ^ "Best Inventions Of 2008". Time. 2008-10-29. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  38. ^ "Grands Prix Du Design". Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  39. ^ [1] Archived February 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ "Le système BIXI remporte le 2010 GOOD DESIGN Awards - Catégorie Environnement". BIXI. 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2011-02-01. 
  41. ^ Daniel Fuller; Lise Gauvin; Yan Kestens; Mark Daniel; Michel Fournier; Patrick Morency & Louis Drouin (January 17, 2013). "mpact Evaluation of a Public Bicycle Share Program on Cycling: A Case Example of BIXI in Montreal, Quebec". American Journal of Public Health. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300917. 
  42. ^ "The Bixi Anthem by Da Gryptions - Download The Bixi Anthem on iTunes". 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 

External links[edit]