Bixi to get loan bailout from Montreal
A curbside bicycle service being offered in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa this summer will provide a breath of fresh air for tourists.The BIXI bicycle sharing program will allow visitors to take in the sights, get some exercise and save money by leaving their gas-guzzlers in the hotel parking lot. (Public Bike System Company / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Quebec government has given the city of Montreal the green light to bail out the cash-strapped company behind the Bixi rent-a-bike network.
News leaked out last week that the company, a private non-profit called Public Bike System Co., had to lay off nine of its 70 employees due to financial trouble.
City of Montreal Auditor General Jacques Bergeron has been investigation the company's finances since August 2010 and details of his findings are expecting in his annual report due Monday May 16.
The company blamed its difficulties on the provincial government, and Thursday it was announced by Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay that the city will give Public Bike System a $37 million loan and will guarantee another $71 million in loans meant to help the company expand to other cities around the world.
"We're investing in the future of the Bixi," Tremblay said. "It's $37 million at the local level, $71 million at the international (level), and we'll find eventually a partner that will assume those responsibilities."
Bixi has already been exported to several cities, including London, Melbourne, Toronto and Boston, while negotiations with New York City are underway.
Tremblay said Bixi's membership numbers have grown from 30,000 last year to 40,000 this year and it's projected to grow by another 10,000 next year.