BIXI: Montréal's Innovative Public Bike System

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : OPER077 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Design / Innovation / Operating model / Public Sector Innovation

Case Length : 19 Pages
Period : 2007-2009
Organization : Stationnement de Montréal
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note : Not Available
Countries : Canada
Industry : Public sector


In the latter part of 2007, the city of Montréal, as part of its transport plan called 'Reinventing Montréal', wanted to set up a comprehensive public biking system similar to that in many European countries. This was an attempt to develop public transit and improve the overall mobility in the city, in keeping with sustainable development principles.

The Société en commandite Stationnement de Montréal (Stationnement de Montréal), the city's parking authority, came up with a public biking system with the help of partners such as renowned industrial designer Michel Dallaire, Cycles DeVinci, and 8D Technologies Inc.

The system they came out with, called BIXI, consisted of technical platforms, bike docks, bikes, pay stations, and backroom software. Being made from recyclable aluminum, the bikes were light and environment friendly. The entire system was solar powered and modular, and thus needed no permanent bolting to the sites. So the dock stations could be removed and shifted from one place to another, as necessary. Another distinguishing feature of the Bixi bike system was that it was Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enabled. The entire program was modeled to be self sustaining primarily through user fees and membership and through some support from corporate sponsorship - very different from the advertising revenues-based models adopted by many of the existing public bike systems around the world.

Most analysts appreciated the design and operating model of Bixi and said that it was very innovative. They said that if Bixi became a success, it would one of the first self sustaining public bike systems in the world. They pointed out some limitations of the system as well. While the system looked better prepared to face the biggest challenge of such biking systems - theft and vandalism - whether it would actually be able to control such abuses was yet to be ascertained.

After a successful test launch in September 2008, Stationnement de Montréal was preparing for the full-fledged launch of the system in May 2009. With the Bixi system drawing a lot of attention from the transport departments of other cities that wanted to set up similar systems Stationnement de Montréal was actively considering commercializing the project by offering it, in whole or in part, to other cities.


» Study the Bixi public bike sharing system and understand why it is considered a major innovation.

» Understand the importance of design (product design/ system/ processes) in meeting the operational objectives.

» Study the operating model of the Bixi system.

» Analyze whether the Bixi system is sustainable.

» Analyze the advantages and disadvantages faced by public sector/governmental organizations in fostering innovation.

» Examine the challenges in implementing the Bixi system and explore strategies that the Bixi team can adopt in the future.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
About Public Bike System 2
Getting Started 4
BIXI - A Blend of Practicality and Aesthetics 5
The Operating Model for BIXI 7
Test Launch 10
Initial Reactions 10
Looking Ahead 12
Exhibits 14


Design, Technology, Operating model, Innovation, Urban transportation, transportation system, Bike system, Radio Frequency Identification, Sustainable development, Sustainability, environmentally-friendly, Solae-powered, RFID-enabled, Reinventing Montreal

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