Vancouver seeks new contractor for public bike share program

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Bike Share Bixi / Shutterstock

Vancouver’s public bike share program has received another life. Following years of delays, the City of Vancouver is relaunching its public bike share program by seeking a new contractor capable of installing and operating the new cycling infrastructure.

This effectively means that the municipal government will be abandoning Motivate, formerly known as Alta Bicycle Share, as the preferred proponent for the project.

The company has since experienced a major restructuring and corporate change. It faced overwhelming financial hurdles in recent years, largely with its Montreal-based partner Bixi which was originally chosen to supply the bikes, equipment and other infrastructure to operate the bike share system.

However, Bixi filed for bankruptcy in January 2014 after accumulating a debt of $46 million and despite receiving a $108-million bailout from the City of Montreal just months earlier.

In a press release, the City of Vancouver maintains that no funds have flowed to the company given its period of uncertainty.

The City would have provided Motivate with a one-time contribution of $6 million to help cover the costs of purchasing the equipment and installation as well as $1 million to assist with operational costs. Under an agreement, the City and Motivate would split any profits, with the company receiving incentives for exceeding performance standards.

The reopening of the bidding process also allows the City to adopt the newest innovations in technologies and operating models for running a cost efficient bike share program.

“The City’s goal is to ensure the best possible system is implemented at the best possible value,” reads a City statement. “A public bike share system will add a convenient, comfortable, flexible, and affordable way to cycle in Vancouver.”

The bike share program was originally scheduled for a 2012 launch, but it was delayed due to continued concerns with how provincial helmet laws would affect the project’s success.

The plan consisted of running a system using 1,500 bikes and 125 bike docking stations across the downtown Vancouver peninsula and the Central Broadway Corridor. Helmet vending machines would accompany each bike docking station.

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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