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Canadian Company Behind Capital Bikeshare Files For Bankruptcy

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D.C. officials say that Bixi's bankruptcy shouldn't affect operations at Capital Bikeshare — for now.
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D.C. officials say that Bixi's bankruptcy shouldn't affect operations at Capital Bikeshare — for now.

The bankruptcy of the equipment and technology company behind Washington’s popular Capital Bikeshare system will not have any immediate impact on the program’s operations but eventually could create problems, depending on the outcome of debt restricting talks, District officials said on Tuesday.

Public Bike System Company (Bixi of Montreal) has been placed under bankruptcy protection in Canada, where the firm is deeply indebted to the city of Montreal after accepting large loans. All of Bixi’s creditors are owed $46 million Canadian dollars, according to a list obtained by TVA Nouvelles in Canada. Some cities have withheld payments to Bixi because of ongoing system problems, contributing to the company’s shortfall.

D.C.’s contracted operator of Capital Bikeshare, Alta Bicycle Share, reportedly wants $11 million from Bixi for software delays in other cities. Despite the money dispute, Alta promised bike share users its systems would remain in service (fifteen cities have adopted Bixi’s bike sharing system).

“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. Alta management did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

The District Department of Transportation also said operations would continue as normal – for now.

“We are assessing the situation 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,” said DDOT spokesman Reggie Sanders.

Bixi provided a statement to WAMU 88.5 FM but spokesman Fabrice Giguere declined to answer any questions about the firm’s financial problems.

“Our doors are open and it is business as usual. In the coming days representatives from Publie 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.

Since launching in August 2008, Capital Bikeshare has expanded to 300 stations in Washington, Arlington, and Alexandria with 2,500 bikes. The potential demise of the system’s equipment manufacturer is something D.C. officials would prefer to avoid.

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