Montreal's Bike Sharing System Goes Public

Montreal has unveiled a new bike sharing program. Though similar to the Paris Velib system, Montreal's new program differs in that it is not operated by a private advertising company.
May 14, 2009, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Bixi is nothing if not ambitious. The service is starting out with 3,000 of the specially designed bicycles distributed among 300 closely-spaced stations in its downtown core. But while it was directly inspired by Vélib, the service that started in Lyon, France, before moving to Paris, Bixi differs in many respects.

Chief among them was a decision by the city to run the system itself, rather than use an outside operator, and to fund it with fees from users rather than relying on advertising. André Lavallée, the municipal politician who championed the Bixi, said that the advertising opportunities are more limited in Montreal, while city ownership allowed greater coordination with the city's bus and subway system.

It was at Mr. Lavallée's suggestion that the development and operation of Bixi be turned over to the city's parking authority. While that seems an unlikely choice, he reasoned that it already has the real estate and the infrastructure needed for a bicycle-sharing system. And while no politician mentioned it, others involved in developing Bixi said that the semi-autonomous parking authority, Stationnement de Montreal, is also less bureaucratic than other city departments."

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Published on Wednesday, May 13, 2009 in The New York Times
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