Bixi, Montreal's public bike system
"Weighing in at 20 kilograms, with three gears, they have an aluminum frame and a distinctive design. Each so-called Bixi features enclosed cabling and chains and dynamo-powered front and rear lights. These bikes have been designed to be able to tough it out for between 75,000 and 100,000 kilometres of use on the city's streets and hills, officials said.
"By next spring, the city expects to have 2,400 of the custom-built Bixis available from a total of 300 solar-powered docking stations in six boroughs: Plateau Mont Royal, Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, Ville Marie, Outremont, Villeray-St. Michel and the South-West."
According to Bixi (a combination of bicycle and taxi), it is a self-sustaining program that won't rely on any outside funding - whether advertising or public. The Montreal equivalent of the Toronto Parking Authority put up $15 million to design and build the system and they hope to recover all the money (except for the R&D) through user fees. There is an annual pass of $78 but people can also choose monthly, weekly, or daily passes. Once you've got a membership you will get the first half hour free and pay in increasing amounts for every half hour after that. Since most trips will be within a half hour it should be quite affordable for most people, especially considering the option of transit passes or taxis.
Out of last week's Bikes as a Public Good Forum we found out that Bixi claims that each bike will cost $1500 per year to administer and maintain, but it will also be shared between approximately 15 people. This makes it significantly cheaper than other programs, and if their claim is correct it will turn out to be one of the only self-sustaining bikesharing programs.
Keep an eye out in Toronto too, as the City has announced bikesharing for this city starting next year. It's an ambitious plan, let's hope they can do it before winter hits in 2009.