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BIXI: Montreal's Public Bike System

How to Get Around Using BIXI

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bixi bikes public bike service velos libre
Photo courtesy of Stationnement de Montréal
BIXI -- a coupling of the words "bicycle" and "taxi" -- is the name of Montreal's public bike system, a first in Canada and a North American premiere in terms of its scale.

Increasingly widespread in Europe -- public bikes are a hit in Paris, Barcelona and Lyon -- Montreal's BIXI bike service became fully operational May 12, 2009 with 3,000 bicycles available for self-service purposes at 400 stations across three boroughs: Ville-Marie, Plateau Mont-Royal and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. In 2010, the season started April 20 with additional stations in Outremont, Villeray-St. Michel, Southwest, Parc Jean-Drapeau and the Olympic Park. By 2012, the network extended to Longueuil, just south of the Island of Montreal.

BIXI in 2013-2014
The 2013-2014 season -- running April through November -- promises 5,000 bikes, 400 stations and yet more BIXI network expansion. Here's a link to the BIXI station map, complete with real-time bike availability information for each station.

Who Should Use BIXI: NOT FOR MOST TOURISTS
BIXI is ideal for people who want to get from Point A to Point B while annoying for users who just want to go for a nice, scenic, lengthy bike stroll. I explain why here. With that in mind, travelers and people new to the city may find these Montreal bike rentals better suited to their exploratory needs.

Payment & Prices: 2013 Rates
Significantly more affordable than driving a car, BIXI payments are made by credit card. Yearly and monthly passes are available online. All other passes are payable by credit card at docking stations.

  • $82.50 for a yearly pass (online subscription only; up from $78 in 2011, $80.50 in 2012)
  • $31.25 for a monthly pass (online subscription only; up from $28 in 2011, $30.25 in 2013)
  • $15 for a 72-hour pass* (paid at docking station, approved after confirming $250 security pre-authorization fee on your credit card: note this amount is NOT charged to your account, it is simply frozen for up to 10 days, only to be charged IF the bike is not returned; up from $12 in 2011)
  • $7 for a 24-hour day pass* (paid at docking station, approved after confirming $250 security pre-authorization fee on your credit card: note this amount is NOT charged to your account, it is simply frozen for up to 10 days, only to be charged IF the bike is not returned; up from $5 in 2011)
Once the yearly, monthly or daily plan has been purchased, BIXI users then can use the bike for a short period of time without getting charged EXTRA fees.**

Day Pass Users: Beware Extra Fees
Users who paid the $7 daily fee are still subject to the following EXTRA usage fees IF the bike ride lasts more than 30 minutes**:

  • $1.75 extra for a bike ride that lasts 60 minutes (up from $1.50 in 2011)
  • $3.50 for a bike ride that lasts more than 60 minutes but less than 90 minutes (up from $3 in 2011)
  • $7 for EVERY extra 30 minutes after the 90-minute mark has been reached (up from $6 in 2011)
  • ZERO extra charges if the user makes sure to bring the BIXI bike back to ANY docking station in Montreal before 30 minutes elapse, redocking the bike and waiting 2 minutes before heading out again**
Monthly & Yearly Pass Users: Also Beware Extra Fees
User who paid the yearly or monthly fee are also subject to fees IF the bike ride lasts more than 45 minutes**:
  • $1.75 extra for a bike ride that lasts 60 minutes (up from $1.50 in 2011)
  • $3.50 for a bike ride that lasts more than 60 minutes but less than 90 minutes (up from $3 in 2011)
  • $7 for EVERY extra 30 minutes after the 90-minute mark has been reached (up from $6 in 2011)
  • ZERO extra charges if the user makes sure to bring the BIXI bike back to ANY docking station in Montreal before 45 minutes elapse, redocking the bike and waiting 2 minutes before heading out again**
How Does This Work Exactly?
Drop by a self-service station. Pay with Mastercard, VISA or American Express at the automated pay station (or, if subscribed to a yearly or monthly service plan, use the BIXI key sent in the mail to unlock a bike). The self-service kiosk will print an access number for 24-hour day pass users. Choose a bike at the docking station. Enter the access number. The bicycle is then released from the bike dock. Use the bike. When finished, return the bicycle to any BIXI bike station in the city, making sure the bike is properly locked into the docking station when it's returned to avoid being charged the $250 deposit.

*Only two bikes can be charged to one credit card for 24-hour day pass access.

**VERY IMPORTANT: The yearly, monthly and daily fee only ensure that you have access to a bike. Usage fees may be added to the total price if a BIXI bike is used for a long period of time. In order NOT to be charged extra fees beyond the daily, monthly or yearly fee, simply make sure to dock the bike at any BIXI station before 30 minutes of cycling have elapsed (or 45 minutes if subscribed to a monthly or yearly membership). Dock the bike. Wait two minutes for the system to reset and THEN select the same bike or choose a new bike from the docking station, again, ensuring to cycle no more than 30 minutes before docking at another BIXI station. As long as the bike is constantly redocked before 30 minutes have elapsed (or 45 minutes if subscribed to a monthly or yearly membership), then ZERO usage charges will be added to the total. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a hefty bill, as many of the people who commented below have experienced.

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  5. BIXI Montreal
  6. BIXI Montreal Public Bike System - Guide to Using Public Bikes in Montreal, Velo Libre

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