Sale of Supplier Could Throw Capital Bikeshare Expansion Plans Into Disarray
Call it the butterfly effect of bike sharing: A bankruptcy and sale in Montreal could mean no new Capital Bikeshare bikes for a while here in D.C.
In January, the Public Bike System Company, known as Bixi, filed for bankruptcy. Bixi supplies bikes for bike-sharing systems in 15 cities, including the District. On April 12, the Washington Post reported that the bankruptcy had halted purchases of new bikes and docking stations that could have expanded the Capital Bikeshare system in the District and into College Park.
The system's limbo was left unresolved on Tuesday, when a court approved the formal transfer of debt-plagued Bixi to the city of Montreal. Meanwhile, Bixi's international arm was sold to Canadian furniture mogul Bruno Rodi. But the Montreal Gazette reports:
Most of Bixi’s contracts with other cities will be cancelled. Rodi will only retain two contracts with cities that have yet to receive bikes.
One, worth about $500,000, is for a small system in Dubai. The other, in Guadalajara, Mexico, is for 1,200 bikes and is worth about $5.5 million.
That would imply that Capital Bikeshare's contract with Bixi will be voided—potentially precluding the purchase of any new bikes and stations for some time. I asked District Department of Transportation spokesman Reggie Sanders about the potential impact, but he did not provide any details. "Obviously this is a very fluid situation and we and our other Capital Bikeshare partners will have more to say once we have more information," Sanders said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery