PBSC Urban Solutions

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PBSC Urban Solutions Inc.
  • Public Bike System Company
  • (Société de Vélo en Libre-Service)
IndustryBicycle-sharing systems
Founded2008; 11 years ago (2008)[a] in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
FounderSociété en commandite Stationnement de Montréal (SCSM)
Area served
Key people
Luc Sabbatini (CEO)
BrandsIconic, Boost, Fit, Efit
Footnotes / references
  1. ^ as Public Bike System Company

PBSC Urban Solutions, formerly the Public Bike System Company (French: Société de Vélo en Libre-Service), is a corporation based in Longueuil, Quebec that manufactures and supplies bicycle-sharing systems, equipment, parts, and software to cities in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Iceland, Mexico, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom.[1][2][3] The company has supplied over 75,000 bikes and 6,350 stations to 32 cities, as well as one university campus.[4][5]

Public Bike System Company (PBSC) was initially created by the City of Montreal[6][7] to supply and operate its public bike share system under the brand BIXI (later becoming BIXI Montréal), which was introduced in May 2009 with 3,000 bicycles and 300 stations.[8] The name BIXI is a portmanteau of BIcycle and taXI. In 2010, PBSC exported the BIXI brand of bike share systems to Minneapolis,[9] London,[10] Washington D.C[11][12] and Melbourne.[13] The company later provided systems to Boston[14] and Toronto[15] in 2011, Chattanooga[16] in 2012, New York City,[17] the Stony Brook University,[18] Aspen,[19] San Francisco,[20] Chicago[21][22] and Columbus[23] in 2013.

At the end of 2013, PBSC began having financial problems that led to the company filing for bankruptcy in early 2014.[24][25] Bruno Rodi purchased the international division in April 2014 and renamed the company PBSC Urban Solutions.[26][27] (Montreal's on-the-ground BIXI bike-share operations were not included in the sale and were reorganized under the BIXI Montréal name.) He then sold the majority share to Luc Sabbatini in January 2015, who became CEO.[26] Since then, PBSC Urban Solutions has extended its activity in Mexico with the Huizi system in Toluca,[28] has signed a contract in Honolulu[29] and has extended its activities in Chicago,[30] Guadalajara[21] and Toronto.[31]


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.[32]

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.

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

From June to September 2009, the system was introduced in a pilot study in Ottawa/Gatineau.[33] This was followed by operations in Melbourne, Australia from May 2010,[34] Minneapolis (MN), in June 2010,[35] and London in July 2010.[36] 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.

On January 20, 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.[37][38] 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.[39]

Original developers[edit]

  • 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. The system runs on a combination of solar energy and grid charged batteries. 8D also created the Spotcycle bike-share smartphone app that locates and shows the status of bike stations close to the users.[40][41][42][43]
  • Michel Dallaire created the design of the physical components.[44][45][46]
  • Robotics Design created the modular bike dock and the intelligent locking system.[47]
  • Cycles Devinci manufactures Bixi bikes in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec.[48]
  • Rio Tinto Alcan is the title sponsor of the BIXI program, as well as providing aluminium for the bikes.[49]
  • 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.[50][51]

Current systems[edit]

The cities that have currently or previously implemented its bicycle rental systems are listed below[26].[citation needed]

City Country Launch date System


Stations Bikes
Aruba  Netherlands 2017 Aruba Green Bike 8 100
Aspen/Basalt, Colorado  United States 2013/2016 We-cycle 16 200
Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts  United States 2011/2015 Hubway 158 1461
Barcelona  Spain 2019 Bicing 519 7000
Buenos Aires  Argentina 2019 Ecobici 400 4000
Chattanooga, Tennessee  United States 2012 Bike Chattanooga 38 341
Chicago, Illinois  United States 2013 Divvy 619 6387
Columbus, Ohio  United States 2013 CoGo 46 335
Detroit, Michigan  United States 2017 MoGo 43 430
Guadalajara  Mexico 2014 MIBICI 242 2116
Honolulu, Hawaii[52]  United States 2017 Biki 100 1000
Kona, Hawaii  United States 2016 Hawaii Island Bikeshare 3 32
London  United Kingdom 2010 Santander Cycles 839 13850
Louisville  United States 2017 Louvelo 28 305
Melbourne  Australia 2010 Melbourne Bike Share 53 676
Minneapolis, Minnesota  United States 2010 Nice Ride Minnesota 171 1913
Montreal  Canada 2009 BIXI 540 6250
New York City, New York and Jersey City, New Jersey  United States 2013-2015 Citi Bike 458 7000
New York (Stony Brook University)  United States 2013 Wolf Ride 8 63
Nicosia  North Cyprus 2018 Velespeed 43 410
Reykjavik  Iceland 2017 WOWcitybike 8 100
Santiago  Chile 2019 Bike Santiago 350 3500
Toluca  Mexico 2015 Huizi Toluca 27 350
Toronto  Canada 2011 Bike Share Toronto 271 2750
Tucson  United States 2017 TUGO 36 330
Washington, D.C./ Arlington, Virginia  United States 2010 Capital BikeShare 395 4686
Pullman, Washington (Washington State University)  United States 2010 GreenBike Program 11 106
São Paulo  Brazil 2018 Bike Itaú 260 2600
Rio de Janeiro  Brazil 2018 Bike Itaú 260 2600
Recife  Brazil 2017 Bike Itaú 80 800
Porto Alegre  Brazil 2018 Bike Itaú 41 410
Vila Velha  Brazil 2018 tembici 20 200
Salvador  Brazil 2018 Bike Itaú 50 500

System components[edit]

A complete station is made up of a pay station, bikes, and bike docks (where the bikes are housed), which are fitted into modular technical platforms that are powered by solar panels. These technical platforms are the base and electronic ports for pay stations and bike docks. Bike stations can be created, expanded, configured and removed in about half an hour, monitored by a real-time management system. Excavation or preparatory work is not required, enabling the installation of a bike station as an adjunct to on-street parking.

The bike dock and locking system[edit]

Bike docks serve to house and lock bikes. Made from aluminium, these modular docking stations are formed by a combination of groups of four docks, which are modular themselves. Inspired by ANAT technology,[citation needed] the bike dock's modularity allows a pay station to be deployed in the place of a single dock. Maintenance and repair of the system is performed using a removable module present in every docking station which contains the locking system and the components that allow the system to function. In case of repairs, this module can be replaced. The locking system is based on an actuator used in the medical sector. The principal inventor of these systems is Charles Khairallah,[53] president of Robotics Design,[54][55][56][57] with co-inventor Michel Dallaire, president of Michel Dallaire Industrial Design.[58] Its system uses solar powered wireless terminals in the stations.[59]

A Bixi pay station in Montreal.

Pay station[edit]

Users can rent a bike using a subscriber key obtained through a long-term online subscription (30 days or annual) or an access code provided by the pay station or other mechanism. Pay stations are touchscreen-operated and often accept credit cards and other local methods of payment. A button is used to notify the operator of any defective bicycles.

The bikes[edit]

The bicycles are utility bicycles with a unisex step-through frame with an upright sitting position and are equipped with 3 speed internal hub gears, drum brakes, fenders, chain guard, lights, and a front rack.

The one-piece aluminum frame and handlebars conceal cables and fasteners in an effort to protect them from vandalism and inclement weather. The tires are designed to be puncture-resistant and are filled with nitrogen to maintain proper inflation pressure longer.[60] Twin LED rear lights are integrated into the robust frame, which weighs approximately 18 kg. The bikes are designed by industrial designer Michel Dallaire and built in the Saguenay, Quebec region by Cycles Devinci, with aluminum provided by Rio Tinto Alcan.[49]

On January 26, 2016 PBSC Urban Solutions launched a new model of bike share bicycles at the Velo-city conference:[16][30][61]

The ICONIC model based on the original BIXI, a robust bike that marked the launch of the bike-sharing industry in 2009. The company stated that the ICONIC model sports 30 key improvements to the design and functionality.[62]

The FIT, which is a lighter rendition of the ICONIC model, has as a smaller frame, thinner grip and smaller wheels.[61][63]

The BOOST is a pedal assist electric model featuring a battery that charges as the bike sits locked into its station.[64]


Mobile application[edit]

CycleFinder is the official application of the bike sharing systems, member of the PBSC Urban Solutions Inc. Family.[65][66] It can be used to find nearby stations manually or using a GPS, available bike or free docking point, a route to a destination, have the distance, elevation and more.[67]

Transit App[edit]

In 2015, PBSC Urban Solutions announced a partnership with Transit App,[68] an application that provides an integrated transactional platform for its bike-sharing system. By using this application, bike-share users are able to plan their urban travel, pay via their smart phone, and unlock a bike with a mobile generated access code.[69]

2014 bankruptcy[edit]

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.[37] In February 2014, the city of Montreal bought all Bixi assets, with the intention of selling the international division of the bankrupt company.[70] On April 9, 2014, Bruno Rodi, a Quebec businessman, bought Bixi's international division for $4 million[71] and renamed it PBSC Urban Solutions.[72][73]

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.[74] The project was revived, however, and 100 bikes and 10 stations were launched in spring 2011.[75]

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.[76] 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[77] to set it up.[75] Alta Bicycle Share is a sister company of Alta Planning + Design,[78] 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.[79]

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.[80] Designer Michel Dallaire stated it never occurred to him that people would try to break the stations to steal bikes. [45] 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.[81]

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.[82] 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.[83]


  • Bixi was ranked 19th in Time Magazine's 50 Best Inventions of 2008.[84]
  • Bixi won the Eco-Design award from INTÉRIEURS FERDIE.[85]
  • Bixi was awarded the 2009 Gold Edison for Energy and Sustainability.[86]
  • 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.[87]


A study published in the American Journal of Public Health reports observing[88]

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"[89] which was a tribute to the bike system.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]