The implementation of a bike-share system in Vancouver could be further delayed, after the proposed equipment provider for the program filed for bankruptcy protection.
But city councillor Heather Deal noted that Vancouver’s negotiations have been with Alta Bicycle Share, and not with Montreal bike-share business Bixi.
“Our staff will be working with Alta on other options moving forward,” she told the Straight by phone.
Council approved a motion last July to finalize an agreement with the Portland-based operator, which had planned to sub-contract to Bixi to provide the bikes. The program was expected to launch in two phases beginning early this year.
Deal said a contract has not been signed with the company, as the city hasn’t seen a business plan yet that they are prepared to approve.
“Nothing has been signed, and we’re continuing to work with Alta to see if we can come up with a solution that works for all of us,” the Vision Vancouver councillor said.
Non-Partisan Association councillor George Affleck said the viability of the proposed bike-share program has always been “questionable” to him.
“We need to, I believe, take a step back, stop using up staff resources and staff time doing all this due diligence when in fact it doesn’t seem like it’s a viable prospect for us at this point,” he said in a phone interview.
Deal said city staff will be working with Alta on other possible partners for the program. She said there are currently no estimates on how much Vancouver’s bike-share system could be delayed.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’ll continue to work with Alta, and hopefully we’ll still be able to come up with a successful program,” said Deal.
“But the first thing is to protect the taxpayer and make sure that it’s a good plan and a good business plan, and that we’re not taking any extra risk on, which we have said we will not do.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson also noted in a statement issued today that Bixi is not the “primary partner” in Vancouver’s bike-share program.
“Vancouver has always refused to offer any of the loan guarantees or obligations that have created significant risk to taxpayers in other cities,” he said.
“Public bike sharing has been successfully established in hundreds of cities worldwide and it will be an important addition to our city’s transportation network, but it will only launch in Vancouver if and when the City is fully satisfied that all partners involved can move forward with operations that are successful and fiscally responsible.”