The Bixi bike-sharing service is popular with Montrealers, but financially speaking it has been a disaster, practically from day one.
And now, the company that runs it has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Bixi is in debt to the tune of close to $50 million — most of that money is owed to the city of Montreal.
It's expected that Bixi bikes will be back in the streets of Montreal come this spring — and while it's under protection, Bixi will try to sell its worldwide operations, which it has failed to do on two occasions in the past year.
Mayor Denis Coderre sent Bixi's owner, Système de vélo en libre-service (SVLS), a letter demanding the city's money back last week. This morning, in consultation with the city, it filed for bankruptcy protection.
Both Coderre and the company believe that is for the best, as it will allow it to restructure and emerge in better financial shape than it ever has been.
Coderre said the decision wasn't easy, but it was necessary to protect Montreal's taxpayers.
"It's painful, today," he said. "But it's a difference between that and another, more painful decision. So that's why we needed, in a credible way, to be responsible and transparent about it."
He said he'd been concerned about Bixi's finances for some time.
"Before we took over at City Hall, we were given a financial portrait of SVLS," he said. "The picture was grim, to say the least."