Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Bankruptcy of Bike Share Company Will Not Immediately Affect Systems in U.S. Cities
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 09:07 AM
Montreal's bike share company, which also supplies equipment and technology to the largest bike share systems in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy—but transportation officials in the U.S. say that won't have any immediate impact on operations.
Public Bike System Company (PBSC), which owns Bixi, Montreal's bike share system, has been placed under bankruptcy protection in Canada. The firm is deeply indebted to Montreal after borrowing money from the city. PBSC’s creditors are owed a total of 46 million in Canadian dollars, according to a list (see below) obtained by TVA Nouvelles in Canada. Some cities have withheld payments to the company due to ongoing system problems (remember NYC's computer glitches?), contributing to the company’s financial shortfall.
Alta Bicycle Share (ABS), which operates a number of systems across the U.S., reportedly wants $11 million from PBSC for software delays, but would not confirm that in a phone call with a reporter. Despite the dispute, Alta says its own bike share operations would be unaffected.
“Our systems across the country—in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston, the Bay Area, Columbus, OH, and Chattanooga, TN—are up and running and ABS will ensure that they continue to operate without interruption. Having served more than 15 million trips to date, we’re focused on continuing to provide a convenient, fast, fun, and affordable means of transit,” the Alta statement said.
D.C.'s District Department of Transportation, which contracts with Alta to operate its Capital Bike Share system, also said it was business as usual—for now.
“We are assessing the situation" said DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders "but it is too early to tell how this will affect us. Right now what we know is that it won’t impact our operations and we will continue to monitor the situation.”
Officials in New York were similarly sanguine. Dani Simons, a marketing executive with Citi Bike, told WNYC: "We are committed to sustaining and expanding Citi Bike as the world's greatest bike share system, and we're not anticipating that this will have any impact on that."
(Montreal's mayor promised Bixi bikes would roll out this summer in his city—but wouldn't commit to the city's bike share future beyond 2014.)
PBSC provided a statement to WAMU 88.5 FM, but spokesman Fabrice Giguere declined to answer further questions about the firm’s financial problems.
“Our doors are open and it is business as usual. In the coming days representatives from Public Bike System Company and the city of Montreal are going to sit down and talk about the different scenarios that are currently on the table concerning PBSC,” Giguere said.