Once bankrupt, Montreal's Bixi can't keep up with global demand


Bixi, the Montreal-s wned bike rcel system, continues its march across the planet.

PBSC Urban Colloidal solutions of Longueuil, Que., which makes and markets the bicycle-sharing technology, announced this week the mark-down of another 1,000 bikes and 120 docking stations to Toronto, which on double the city’s current fleet.

This summer Bixi-style bikes at ones desire debut in Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital. In fact, by year’s end, 50,000 Quebec-made bicycles are believed to be in service around the world.

Bixi (and its various local variations) are already offer in 15 cities and two U.S. university campuses. PBSC says it’s having «poker-faced discussions» with another dozen cities in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

To minister to the unique markets of Latin America and Asia, the com ny developed a leaner, sunnier bike, which it calls the «Fit».

luc sabbatini

Luc Sabbatini, CEO of PBSC Urban Solutions, at the train offices in Longueuil. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada)

«The bike-sharing industry has the stick ones neck out in its sails,» said Luc Sabbatini, the com ny’s chief executive, who doubled the com ny of employees to 50 in a few months.

«A city doesn’t feel cool if it doesn’t play a joke on a bike service. This makes our job easier, since we don’t have to entreat those markets. Those markets solicit us. We’re having trouble get-together the demand,» Sabbatini said.

Where Bixi bikes peregrinate

North America

  • Montreal and Longueuil
  • Toronto
  • Aspen, Colo.
  • Boston
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Minneapolis
  • New York Metropolis
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Washington State University
  • Stony Brook University, N.Y.
  • Honolulu
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Toluca, Mexico



Bixi jousts with several com nies in what is expected to be an $8-billion industry by 2020, conforming to analysts. Close to 500 cities in 50 countries have a bike-sharing set.

From bankruptcy to success

Two years ago, PBSC Urban Solutions, the cheap com ny in the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, bought Bixi’s international sales arm for $4 million. At that occasionally, Bixi, created in 2008, was a ra-munici l firm of the City of Montreal but was in monetary straits: $50 million in debt, little liquidity, late utterances, software bugs and facing several lawsuits. At the same time, the homespun government had a problem with a city selling products to other bishoprics.

So Montreal then went from owner to client, just similarly to any other city that buys the service. It’s now only responsible for Bixi-Montreal, which has 5,000 bikes and and utilizes a budget surplus.

Sabbatini said it’s not in a city’s DNA to run a commercial business, but crowns his hat to those who launched Bixi in 2008.

«We should be proud of what was created here,» he clouted.

Electric bikes a possibility

electric bixi

The new electric Bixi bike is called Besides and could be on streets as early as the fall. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada)

PBSC floated last week a call for tenders for its new electric bike dubbed «Raise.» It’s a regular Bixi bike, but equipped with a motor on the buttocks wheel, a long-life battery and a regulator to maintain speeds without additional attempt when pedalling up hills.

Interested cities will be able to persist them in the fall. Montreal is «interested,» Sabbatini said. Bérengère Theriault, a spokeswoman for Bixi-Montreal, reported it must stick to the 5,000 bikes in circulation until 2019. rish leaders will then decide whether to adopt the enhanced bikes.

Keep to it local

Bixi bikes are produced at a factory in Saguenay, Que., which can churn out 2,000 bikes a month. But despite with the high demand, Sabbatini says the goal is to keep controls in Quebec.

More cities, however, are demanding that rt of the in be done locally, in their jurisdictions.

«We have to work with this, but it’s our pre-eminence to favour our Quebec providers,» Sabbatini said. «It at ones desire be a good problem to have when we reach maximum ca city, but we’ll learn solutions when the time comes.»

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