'A victim of its own success': Bixi Montreal struggles with bike distribution

·1 min read
Bixi Montreal currently has 58,000 active members — 20,000 more than last year.  (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Bixi Montreal currently has 58,000 active members — 20,000 more than last year. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Isaak Morency would like to use Bixi Montreal bikes for his morning commute, but finding one in the Plateau–Mont-Royal borough has become a daily challenge.

"All the stations that are around my house are all empty," Morency said. "I always arrive late to work."

Bixi's popularity continues to grow in Montreal, but its success poses a lack of supply for users and major operational challenges for the company.

In May, the non-profit recorded 1.3 million bike trips — an increase of 92 per cent compared to May 2021. Every morning, 8,000 cyclists from different boroughs turn to Bixi bicycles to head downtown.

As daily commutes increase, bikes are becoming increasingly scarce at several stations, according to Bixi Montreal executive director Christian Vermette.

"By 8 a.m., stations that were fully loaded are empty," Vermette said.

Bixi's evening and night workers are emptying downtown stations to supply residential areas with bikes for the morning rush, which Vermette says is the root cause of logistical challenges.

About 10 redistribution vehicles are responsible for transporting bicycles between stations, which he says isn't enough.

"While we may want to adjust quickly, the high demand is beyond what we're able to do," he said.

Magali Bebronne, Vélo Québec program director, agrees, citing Bixi's spike in users.

The non-profit has 58,000 active members — 20,000 more than last year.

"Bixi is a victim of its own success," Bebronne said. 

Bérengère Thériault, a spokesperson for Bixi, says the company is buying more redistribution vehicles, offering more stations, extending service hours and hiring new employees each week to meet the growing demand. 

"Bixi is in a period of adjustment, but people should see fewer empty stations over the next weeks," she said.

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