Ottawa

Representatives say decision will not affect U of O stations

Photo by Marta Kierkus

The company behind the Bixi bike share system, which has two stations on campus, has filed for bankruptcy.

On Jan. 20, the Public Bike System Company (PBSC), which created and runs the Bixi program, filed a notice of intention to seek protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act with the City of Montreal.

“Because the (PBSC) cannot meet its financial obligations nor find a viable short-term solution, and because of the uncertainty regarding the possible recovery of the sums injected by the city, we have decided to act now rather than later,” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said in an official statement.

He also said the city wants to limit impacts on taxpayers as much as possible.

The PBSC announced it had to file for bankruptcy because clients have withheld payments totalling $5.6 million. No job losses are expected at this time and the 2014 Bixi Montreal season should not be affected. The PBSC will attempt to sell Bixi’s international assets.

According to an official statement from the City of Montreal, “this legislation will offer protection to the enterprise, so that it may restructure its business and finances.”

However, Fabrice Giguère, communications and public relations officer of Bixi Montreal, said that as of Jan. 23, they are “still open for business” and that PBSC and City of Montreal representatives will “talk about the different scenarios that are currently on the table for the future of PBSC” in the days to come.

The University of Ottawa acquired two Bixi stations last summer: one on Waller Street outside Hagen Hall, and one on King Edward Avenue outside the Minto Sports Complex. The National Capital Commission (NCC) owns the bicycles in Gatineau and downtown Ottawa, including the U of O locations.

Senior communications manager for the NCC Jean Wolff said Capital Bixi is an independent operation owned by the NCC.

He said it’s too early to know if the actions of PBSC will have any effect on the Ottawa Bixi stations.

The NCC purchased the equipment from the PBSC and they have a service contract with them that will end in 2015. NCC representatives maintain that the PBSC will honour their contract. According to Wolff, the NCC plans to open the next biking season on April 15.

Wolff also said there has been a significant increase in subscribers between the 2012 and 2013 seasons in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. He said NCC statistics indicate “the popularity and relevancy of the system,” and that there is a demand for new stations at the U of O.