Montreal

Bixi's president resigns

The head of Montreal's bike-sharing service is stepping down because he says he can't assure taxpayers Bixi won't require public funding.

Roger Plamondon blames the province for Bixi's financial woes

Roger Plamondon, who was president of Bixi for three years, said he blames the service's financial troubles on the provincial government. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

The head of Montreal's bike-sharing service is stepping down because he says he can't assure taxpayers Bixi won't require public funding.

Roger Plamondon has been president of Bixi since its inception three years ago, and he said he blames the service's financial troubles on the provincial government.

In May, Montreal's city council approved a $108-million bailout package for the program to cover a budget shortfall. That included a $37-million loan to cover Bixi's deficit, and another $71-million in loan guarantees to export and develop the system abroad.

Bixi's international operations represented a significant source of revenue, but they also qualified as commercial activities.

The province said the city of Montreal's charter forbids it from loaning money to a commercial enterprise. Quebec's municipal affairs minister, Laurent Lessard, then ordered Bixi to sell its international operations so it could receive the financing.

Plamondon said the loss of revenue meant Bixi would have a $3 million deficit this year, rather than a $2 million profit.

5,600 people bought Bixi memberships this year. ((CBC))
"Bixi would cost nothing to Montrealers. The recent decision by Minister Lessard...makes it impossible for me to carry out that mandate."

He said only 5,600 bikes were sold to other cities this year, whereas the company had projected that 9,000 would be sold.

The service was publicly criticized this summer by the city's auditor general, who said there was no business plan in place before the service was set up.

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