Tremblay remains unfazed by scathing BIXI report
Montreal's BIXI bike-sharing program will lose millions in taxpayer money, according to the city's own financial watchdog.
Auditor general Jacques Bergeron said in his report released Monday that the program was created and run with administrative irregularities, a lack of transparency and not enough accountability.
A day later, the debate over the contentious report was fierce at city hall Tuesday between Mayor Gerald Tremblay and the opposition. But the mayor took the firestorm in stride.
"We just have to look at the past and make sure it doesn't happen again in the future," Tremblay told reporters Tuesday.
That did not satisfy Vision Montreal Leader Louise Harel, who wondered aloud whether or not it would be cheaper for the city to simply buy a bicycle for every resident who wants one.
The auditor general's report says undisclosed information and a lack of serious analysis concealed significant risks for the city.
The report also revealed that a BIXI pay station costs $6,000. But the city paid $16,000 each for stations that were supposed to service both the BIXIs and parking meters, except the parking meter function never ended up working, so now the city has to absorb a loss of $3 million.
Tremblay still believes the money to cover the local deficit will come.
"When we sell the export, which is a business that is generating profits, we will not give it away," he said, referring to the service being sold to cities worldwide. "We will make sure we have royalties to pay for the deficit at the local level."
That sentiment was echoed by BIXI CEO Roger Plamondon, who stood by his claim that international interest in setting up bike-sharing systems will mean Montrealers will not be paying for any deficits.
"Whoever is going to be picking it up is going to be as satisfied as the city of Montreal was on the potential of BIXI internationally and will pay enough money to permit to pay back the loan to the city of Montreal," Plamondon said.
Plamondon says talks are already advanced with New York City and San Francisco, while London also wants to increase the number of bikes on its streets.