News & Politics

Capital Bikeshare Eager to Expand After Sale of Bankrupt Supplier

Bikeshare had to hold off on growing after its supplier went under, but now it's looking forward to adding 400 to 500 more bikes this year.

Photograph by Flickr user Elvert Barnes.

Fans of Capital Bikeshare got unnerved in January when the Canadian company filed for bankruptcy and stopped shipping out the stations and bicycles that offer rental rides to residents and visitors of the District, Arlington, Alexandria, and Montgomery County.

But the standstill could be ending soon now that the company, Montreal-based Public Bike System Company (popularly known as Bixi, after Montreal’s bike-sharing program), is under new ownership, according to Kim Lucas, the District Department of Transportation official who oversees DC’s part of Bikeshare.

Bixi was sold on Friday to Bruno Modi, a Canadian furniture magnate and serious adventurer. (He has climbed the highest peak on all seven continents, including Antarctica’s Vinson Massif, and was reportedly on a boat in the Indian Ocean when he bought Bixi out of bankruptcy court.)

Bixi originally went under from its $44 million debt, $11 million of which is owed to Alta Bicycle Share, a Portland, Oregon company that operates Capital Bikeshare and bicycle-sharing networks in several other cities. When Bixi filed for bankruptcy, BIkeshare had to hold back on expanding throughout the area, including its entry into Prince George’s County with stations in College Park.

But now that Bikeshare’s supplier has a financially stable globetrotter in charge, Lucas says the system can get back on track for another major expansion. In the District alone, Bikeshare had been planning on adding 40 to 50 more stations this year, each of which come stocked with ten of the big, red bikes.

“We hope we’ll be able to start buying equipment again soon,” Lucas says. For now, DDOT has a few stations and bikes that it hasn’t deployed yet, but the anticipated purchase will help Bikeshare alleviate demand in the most-trafficked parts of the city and adding bikes to underserved areas like east of the Anacostia River.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.