NEWS

Montreal won't commit more money for Bixi, says Ménard

09/24/2013 10:32 EDT | Updated 11/24/2013 05:12 EST
A member of Montreal's city executive committee says he cannot guarantee the administration will put more money into Bixi, the publicly-funded bike-sharing program, if it requires financial assistance.

"If you say... 'can you make a commitment that city hall will put... money to Bixi?' I think it’s not going to happen. But it doesn’t mean that Bixi will not be in operation," said Réal Ménard, the Montreal city hall executive committee member in charge of the transportation dossier, told CBC's Daybreak Montreal.

The made-in-Quebec bike-sharing service has lost millions of dollars since hitting Montreal streets in 2008.

- Bixi company struggles with deficit

Ménard said that he is concerned about Bixi's current cash flow problems, but that the program is not facing bankruptcy, and bikes will be back on the streets next season.

Ménard said these financial difficulties are due to outstanding payments from U.S. cities that use the bike-sharing program.

"We're expecting to have money. When the money will be there, Bixi will be in a better situation," said Ménard.

"We are optimistic that the crisis we are talking about will be solved."

Montreal's auditor general, Jacques Bergeron, said he has serious doubts about whether Bixi's Montreal and Toronto bike-sharing services can continue their operations.

- Bixi bike-sharing service in financial trouble

​In the letter, dated Sept. 11, Bergeron said the evidence he saw while compiling his annual report on Bixi's operations led him to believe the programs in Montreal and Toronto were in serious trouble.

The news came in a letter addressed to the president of Public Bike System Company, known in French as the Société de vélos en libre-service, or SVLS.

Bergeron's report on Bixi's financial year ending on Dec. 31, 2012 was slated to be submitted to Montreal city council yesterday, however Ménard says he has not yet seen the document.

"The tax-payer has the right to know the financial situation," said Ménard.

"We need to have this information because we are talking about a public fund, and the board of bixi has to collaborate closely with M. Bergeron."

In 2011, Montreal's city council approved a $108-million bailout package for the program to cover a budget shortfall. That included a $37-million loan to cover Bixi's deficit, and another $71-million in loan guarantees to export and develop the system abroad.

The service spread to a number of cities in Canada and around the world.

New York City just this year introduced its version of Bixi, Citi Bike, to its city grid.

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