BIXI: How to Use Montreal's Public Bikes
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. More on BIXI 2017 rates and dates below.
BIXI: In the Beginning
Increasingly widespread in Europe, 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. And in 2017, another 1,000 bikes and 80 stations are being added to meet demand.
Who Should Use BIXI: Not for Most Tourists
BIXI is ideal for people who want to get from Point A to Point B. But BIXI can be massively annoying for users who just want to go for a leisurely scenic bike stroll. With that in mind, travelers and people new to the city may find these Montreal bike rentals better suited to their exploratory needs.
2017 Rates and Dates
The 2017 season is expected to run April 15 through November 15, 2017, promising over 6,000 bikes and at least 540 docking stations. Check out the BIXI station map, complete with real-time bike availability information for each station.
Payment and Prices: 2017 Rates
Significantly more affordable than driving a car, BIXI payments are made by credit card. Yearly, monthly and 24-hour passes are available online. Short-term one-day and three-day passes are available on location, payable by credit card at docking stations.
- $89 for a yearly pass (online subscription only; up from $78 in 2011, $80.50 in 2012, $82.50 in 2014, $85 in 2015, $87 in 2016)
- $55 for a half season pass April 15 to July 31 or August 1 to November 15 (new pass offering since 2015)
- $30 for a monthly pass (online subscription only; up from $28 in 2011, down from $30.25 in 2013 and $31.25 in 2014)
- $14 for a 72-hour pass* (up from $12 in 2015, down from $15 in 2014, up from $12 in 2011, approved after confirming $100 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; )
- $5 for a one-day pass* (approved after either signing up for a BIXI key online which grants the user the option to use BIXI for an entire season for as many select 24-hour periods as desired using the key to activate each period OR if user only wants to sign up for a simple no-frills one-day pass directly at a BIXI station, then approved after confirming $100 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)
- $2.95 for a one-way pass (up from $2.75 in 2015, new pass offering since 2015)
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.**
Travel using BIXI on select Sundays free of charge on May 28, June 25, July 30, August 27, September 24, and October 29, 2017. Here's how to take to take advantage of free BIXI Sundays.
Short-Term Users: Beware Extra Fees
Users who pay the one-way fee, one-day fee or three-day fee are still subject to the following EXTRA usage fees IF the bike ride lasts more than 30 minutes**:
- $3 extra for a bike ride that lasts up to 60 minutes (up from $1.50 in 2011, $1.75 in 2016)
- extra $3 for 61 minutes and more, for every additional 15 minutes (new pricing scheme in 2017)
- ZERO extra charges if the user makes sure to bring the BIXI bike back to ANY docking station in Montreal before 30 minutes elapse. Simply redock the bike, wait 2 minutes for the system to reset to zero minutes, then insert your credit card again for a new unlock code, then undock again and use for up to another 30 minutes without paying any extra charges. Repeat the docking process as needed.**
Monthly, Yearly, and Half-Season Pass Users: Also Beware Extra Fees
Users who paid the yearly, monthly or half season passes 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. Simply redock the bike, wait 2 minutes for the system to reset to zero minutes, then undock again and use for up to another 45 minutes without paying any extra charges. Repeat the docking process as needed.**
So I Bought My Pass Online. How Do I Unlock a Bike?
Easy. If you've already subscribed to a yearly, monthly or one-day plan purchased online, then just remember to keep the BIXI key sent in the mail on your person. After all, you never know when you're going to need a bike. Then find a BIXI station. Once on location, use the key to unlock the BIXI bike of your choice.
I Didn't Buy a Pass Online. How Does This Work Exactly?
Drop by a BIXI station. Any station. And be ready to pull out your Mastercard, VISA, or American Express at the automated pay station. Follow the instructions. Once your transaction is complete, the self-service kiosk will print out an access number that will be active for 24 hours, 72 hours, or the duration of a one-way trip, this depending on which plan you chose. Select 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 $100 deposit.
*Only four bikes can be charged to one credit card for short-term one-day or three-day packages.
**VERY IMPORTANT: The yearly, half-season, monthly, daily and even one-use fees only ensure that you have access to a bike for 30 minutes (daily and one-use) or 45 minutes (yearly, half-season, monthly). Usage fees may be added above and beyond what was already paid if a BIXI bike is used for a long period of time.
In order NOT to be charged extra fees, 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, half season or yearly pass). 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 (for short-term passes) or 45 minutes (for long-term passes) have elapsed, then ZERO usage charges will be added to the total. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a hefty bill.