Montrealers stand to lose millions of dollars in the popular Bixi bike-sharing program because of administrative irregularities, an illegal organizational set-up, incomplete planning and a lack of oversight and accountability, city auditor-general Jacques Bergeron has concluded.As a result, the Public Bike System Company (PBSC) may now be on the market.
The city and the company had no business plan, no serious feasibility studies, no clear financing structure and, apparently, no legal authority to launch Bixi in May 2009, Bergeron’s report says.
“It’s not unreasonable to conclude that the city therefore exceeded its powers” in setting up Bixi, Bergeron writes.
And while SVLS and Stationnement de Montréal have assured the Bixi program will overcome its deficit in the medium-term, the provincial government has thrown a wrench into their plans to turn a profit.
The Quebec Municipal Affairs Department last month ordered the city and Stationnement de Montréal to get out of the business of exporting Bixi to other cities in Canada and abroad because of their irregular structure, which violates the Cities and Towns Act.
The city is not permitted to be involved in a commercial entreprise. As a result, SVLS will have to sell off the business of exporting Bixi. That, says Bergeron, effectively cuts off its ability to make money off the Bixi program. It also jeopardizes the company’s ability to return a $37-million loan that Montreal city council approved last month, Bergeron finds.
From Bike Portland:
Alta Bicycle Share (a spin-off of Portland-based Alta Planning) that plans and manages bike-sharing systems, says they'd be interested in purchasing Montreal's Public Bike System Company (PBSC) if it became available.PBSC's Bixi system is used in Montreal (as Bixi), London (as Barclays Cycle Hire), Washington (as Capital Bikeshare), Melbourne (as Melbourne Bike Share), and Toronto (as Bixi Toronto). It will soon be rolled out in Boston (as Hubway).
PBSC is the international company behind the "Bixi" bike-sharing system. According to the Montreal Gazette, it was set up to finance Bixi's Montreal operations by selling bikes and other hardware to other countries (they visited Portland in August 2009). Recently, Bixi/PBSC have come under serious fire and, following a report by the Montreal auditor general that, "painted the entire arrangement as one rife with procedural and legal irregularities," there is pressure to sell the international division.