Coderre defends BIXI as study shows tens of millions in losses
The BIXI bike system will have cost Montrealers $60 million over 10 years while making just a minor impact on the environment by 2019, according to a new study by the Montreal Economic Institute.
The study, published on Wednesday, said that only public funds have allowed BIXI to generate surpluses. Taxpayers contribute nearly $3 million annually to the organization, and there are plans for the city to spend $9 million over the next three years on equipment and new stations.
Bradly Doucet, a public policy analyst at the institute, said BIXI never fulfilled expectations.
"When it was presented in 2009, it was presented as a service that would pay for itself and even make money," he said. "That has not been the case."
The City of Montreal took control of BIXI after the company that previously ran the bicycles went bankrupt in 2014.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre defended BIXI at an event announcing the program's ninth season, saying Montrealers are pleased by the city's commitment to sustainable development.
"We're talking about a social investment, a sustainable investment. We're talking about a public service," he said. "The fact that you have other players who are together putting up an integrative strategy to be real regarding sustainable development, I think, is good."
Coderre announced that the BIXI program would be expanded during the upcoming summer to include an additional 1,000 bicycles and 80 new docking stations.
"This is a service that I wish to be, eventually, everywhere," he said.
Institute vice-president Jasmin Guenette said instead of supporting a service that runs at a deficit, Montreal might be better off developing the city’s bike network.
The study also criticizes BIXI’s impact on the environment, saying most uses of the bicycles replaced travelling by foot or public transport, rather than by car.
The new BIXI season will begin on April 16.
- With files from The Canadian Press