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BIXI: Bike, Taxi, Montreal

Dispatch from Montreal | Published : 22/Sep/2008 16:30

The voting process for the name of Montreal’s citywide bike rental program is over and the winner is chosen. The system is going to be called “BIXI”.

Over the next month, demo bikes will be wheeled around the city and public demonstrations will be held. According to the city’s mayor, Gerald Tremblay, by next spring Montreal will have 2,400 bikes at more than 300 solar-powered stations.

Bixi Illustration
A seasonal pass (valid mid-April through mid-November) will cost $78, a monthly pass $28 and a 24-hour one $5. A pass lets you use the bike for up to 30 minutes per trip. You can take as many short trips as you like. Further usage is subject to surcharge: starting at $1.50 for the next 30-minute interval and going all the way up to $6 after 2 hours. A similar pricing scheme is in effect in Paris. The idea here is to encourage short trips and discourage bike hoarding.

What do they call them in ... ?

Similar programs exist in several European cities. This is what they are called there:
  • Paris : Vélib
  • Toulouse: Vélô
  • Lyon: Vélo’v
  • Barcelona : Bicing
  • Zaragoza: Bizi
Last month, when the system’s name was still under consideration, I felt obligated to express my opinion on the naming scheme in these pages. At the time, I thought “Montvélo” was the only acceptable choice. Having talked to many people since, however, I changed my opinion a little. I guess I’ve accepted that BIXI is not such a bad name and perhaps even a better one than Montvélo (particularly because the ‘t’ in the middle of the word is not pronounced in French, which can create confusion: is it “my bike” [mon vélo] or a public one [“Montvélo”?]). Also, the name “BIXI” puts us closer to the naming pattern common in Spain (see inset) which I think is refreshing: Not everything is copied over from France!

The program will be first implemented in the boroughs of Ville Marie and Plateau Mont-Royal as well as parts of the Rosemont-Petite Patrie borough. Further expansion is going to happen in phases (see map below).

Bixi: Map