A Montreal-based equipment and technology supplier for Alta Bicycle Share, the company that manages Boston’s Hubway program, has filed for bankruptcy protection, but Hubway administrators say the bankruptcy will not have an effect on Boston’s bike-sharing program.
Bixi, also known as the Public Bike System Co., announced Monday that it has filed for bankruptcy protection to “allow the company to restructure its business and finances,” according to a company statement.
The company operates Montreal’s bike-share program and provides equipment and software for Alta, the company that manages Hubway and popular bike-sharing programs in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. The comany was racked with financial challenges for years and saddled with almost $50 million in debt. Its announcement came as little surprise to Montreal officials, who had long expressed concerns about the company’s future.
Benjy Kantor, a spokesman for Hubway, said the challenges facing Bixi are not expected to have an impact on Hubway’s operations.
“We’re expecting that Hubway will continue to run without interruption, and plans are to expand the current operations once the full system launches in spring,” Kantor said. Since Hubway’s launch in summer 2011, the network of Hubway stations has grown dramatically, extending into Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline. The bike-sharing network also continues to grow denser. Two stations are scheduled to open in the Seaport District in the spring.
Last year, bike-sharing administrators announced that the system would provide service through the winter in Cambridge, and would consider bringing year-round service to the rest of the system if the test run in Cambridge is successful.
As Hubway gets bigger, it will need more equipment, but Alta said that will be possible even without Bixi. Mia Birk, vice president at Alta, said much of the equipment used for bike-sharing systems in North America is produced by subcontractors who will continue to supply the high-handled, heavy bicycles that have become ubiquitous in cities with bike-sharing programs.
As for bike enthusiasts in Montreal, there is no immediate cause for alarm: A statement by Public Bike System Co. said the 2014 Bixi bike-share season will not be affected by the bankruptcy filing.
According to the Montreal Gazette, the company’s precarious financial position turned worse after New York City and Chicago refused to pay the company until it resolved technical glitches and software issues that had plagued those cities’ bike-sharing programs since their launch. Hubway, which was launched earlier than New York’s Citi Bike and Chicago’s Divvy on a different software platform, was not affected by those problems.