Montreal

Bixi season kicks off in Montreal

Bixi season is officially underway and it’s kicking off with a bang.

Bike-sharing service to offer unlimited, free 30-minute rides every last Sunday of the month starting May 29

Montreal's Bixi season runs from April until November. (Kim McNairn/CBC)

Bixi season is officially underway and it's kicking off with a bang.

Montreal's bike-sharing service launched at the stroke of midnight, and it's already surpassed objectives set by Bixi officials.

"Our objective was to gain 1,000 new subscribers, and we've already reached the 2,200 mark," said Sylvia Morin, a board member for Bixi.

"A lot of effort was put into making the customer experience a better one. The bikes are always in top-shape condition, we've changed the tariffs so that it would be easier to use, but I think it boils down to the customer experience, which has really been improved and the quality of the maintenance of the bikes."

This season's spike in membership comes after two successful years.

In 2015, Bixi saw a 9.4 per cent increase in the number of trips taken.

In 2014, after the city of Montreal helped Bixi out of bankruptcy, it ran a surplus of $818,000 — the first time it was in the black since the service began in 2008.

"There's probably a sense that there's more stability around the service. For several years, it was up in the air whether the service would come back. But now we have stability in front of us and we have the City behind us for up to 5 years," Morin said, adding that the company Manulife has also partnered with Bixi.

Morin also hopes Mother Nature will co-operate.

"We've got gorgeous weather for the next week, probably, which wil be great because I think this is the first time Bixi starts its season with such great foreseeable weather."

Here are some facts about Bixi and what's new about the service this year:

1. Bixi by the numbers

  • 5,200 bikes
  • 460 stations
  • 9,600 docking points
  • 38,000 members in 2015
  • 3.5 million rides in 2015

2. How it works

Bixi is a bike-sharing service where people can borrow a public bike from a docking station 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from April to November. Bixi stations are located across many parts of the city. You return the bike at any docking station when you arrive at your destination.

3. More bikes in Griffintown

Morin says that Bixi officials have been keeping up with the shifting demographics of the city's neighbourhoods, and the location of its docking stations reflects that.

"The mapping of the stations has changed slightly and it mirrors the usage and the new areas and the new neighbourhoods of Montreal where people are using them more," Morin told CBC.

"For example, a year or two ago, Griffintown was an area where there were not that many docking stations. This year there will be more availability in that neighbourhood."

4. Free for one day a month

People who want to get around the city by bike can give Bixi a try for free.

All rides that are under 30 minutes will be free every last Sunday of the month, starting May 29.

5. Valet service during festivals

During Montreal's busy festival season, Bixi users don't need to worry about the docking station being full. Employees will be on site to manage the fleet during some events.

"If we want to encourage people to use the bikes to go to the festival, we'll have a valet service there. So anyone who takes a bike to go to Île Notre-Dame, they won't have to be preoccupied with 'Will there be a station there for me to dock it?'" Morin said.

"There will be a valet service to take the bike for them, and when they want to leave at night there will be a bike for them to leave."

6. Prices

  • $87 for one year
  • $55 for half-season
  • $30 for 30 days
  • $14 for three days
  • $5 for 24 hours
  • $2.95 for a one-way trip

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