View Full Version : Alta and 8D Technologies announce new partnership for bikeshare systems

02-04-2014, 05:22 PM
Alta operates Capital Bikeshare under contracts with Arlington, DC, Alexandria and Montgomery County. Prince George's County is expected to join in a matter of weeks, with stations in College Park. (EDIT: The roll-out of the Prince George's stations has been delayed because of the BIXI bankruptcy.) 8D Technologies was the original software provider to BIXI. (BIXI provided the equipment for CaBi and other bikeshare systems through an arrangement with Alta. BIXI filed for bankruptcy this year.)

BIXI runs the Montreal bikeshare system and also exports the system to other cities through partners such as Alta. But they do not manufacture the bikes or write the operating software. Devinci Bikes manufactures the bikes. 8D used to provide the software, until a dispute with BIXI. (BIXI switched software providers. This led to issues with newer systems, including those in Chicago and NYC. In return, those cities withheld payment, contributing to the cash flow problems that forced BIXI to file for bankruptcy.)

Seems like Alta is nimbly stepping aside from BIXI and moving on with 8D. The announcement indicates that Alta and 8D will expand existing bikeshare systems and launch new systems this summer. There are also improvements to the BIXI model:

- Key distribution from the kiosk
- Account management and bike reservations through a new mobile application
- Color screens
- Enhanced power management solutions
- Improved docking/undocking mechanism


[Posted on The WashCycle]

[Update: Bixi was split up during the bankruptcy process. Bixi International, the division that exported bikeshare systems to other cities, was purchased by a Canadian furniture magnate. Toronto bought out its bikeshare system from Bixi. Montreal took over its bikeshare system from Bixi as well. With the news of the Seattle bikeshare system, the first Alta-8D system, it appears that North American bikeshare is moving beyond Bixi.]

02-04-2014, 06:46 PM

02-05-2014, 09:07 AM
Note that 8D Technologies is the creator of the free Spotcycle mobile app, which displays bike and station info for the Capital Bikeshare system (and many other bikeshare systems too). The new mobile app might replace Spotcycle.

04-13-2014, 02:25 AM
Bixi seems to have been sold to the owner of a chain of furniture stores. Citibike in NYC is said to be in financial difficulty, largely because they are expecting bikeshare to break even from the very beginning, or at least without the assistance of any public funding at all. (I don't know how realistic that is, considering that every transportation system is heavily subsidized, including car driving.)

There haven't been any updates on the Alta/8D partnership. A new W. Post article highlights the delays for expanding Capital Bikeshare due to the Bixi bankruptcy.


But it's interesting to see some updates on those expansion plans in the D.C. region. It has already been reported that College Park intended to join the network this year, but that has been put on hold because of the Bixi bankruptcy. Alexandria is planning to expand CaBi to Del Ray and Carlyle but that has also been delayed.

The article also quotes a D.C. transportation planner who says that D.C. had planned on adding 40 new stations this spring, many of them in downtown neighborhoods where demand frequently overwhelms supply (full stations on weekday mornings, empty stations on weekday evenings).

Maybe the sale of Bixi or the Alta/8D partnership gets the process moving again soon. When it does, that large expansion in downtown D.C. could mean major improvements for those who commute to D.C. on CaBi. The expansion maps that I've seen do not show this large a number of new stations downtown. Most of the planned 2013 locations have already received stations, with only a few remaning to be added.


There are a lot of stations downtown already, but there is demand for more (or at least a large demand for more docks at existing stations). I'm eager to see where these new stations will be located. I'm even more eager to see those stations get installed soon.

Tim Kelley
04-14-2014, 01:25 PM
Another story on the topic: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2014/04/bixi-bike-share-bankruptcy-saga-just-got-even-more-interesting/8868/

04-16-2014, 09:49 AM
http://wamu.org/news/14/04/16/bikeshare_supplier_gets_new_owner_reopening_door_t o_possible_expansion_in_dc_area

04-17-2014, 01:14 AM
Montreal Gazette article, Apr. 16, 2014

"Court approves transfer of Bixi Montreal to city"


The City of Montreal will take over the Montreal bikeshare system (through a new non-profit company). Some are claiming that this could be the final year of Montreal bikeshare but no decisions have been made. (http://www.montrealgazette.com/Bixi+bikes+back+Montreal+streets/9740045/story.html)

The international bikeshare sales division of Bixi was bought by furniture mogul Bruno Rodi. He has been out of the country but returns to Canada on Friday, when he is expected to sign the final papers for the sale of Bixi International. He will control all of Bixi's intellectual property associated with the Bixi bikeshare systems.

The article includes the following:

"Most of Bixi’s contracts with other cities will be cancelled. Rodi will only retain two contracts with cities that have yet to receive bikes.

One, worth about $500,000, is for a small system in Dubai. The other, in Guadalajara, Mexico, is for 1,200 bikes and is worth about $5.5 million."


What does this mean? Well, it seems to indicate that the new Bixi International is going to cancel the Alta/Capital Bikeshare contract. But since the point of Bixi Int'l is to sell bikeshare systems, I would think that this is just the first step in renegotiating supply deals with Alta and other Bixi-based bikeshare operators and systems.

Rodi and Bixi Int'l have a monopoly on the supply of the Bixi-design bikes and systems, I believe. Alta and 8D have that new partnership deal though they didn't have a bike supplier lined up yet when they announced the partnership. If Alta/Capital Bikeshare go with 8D and future partners, they would have to license the Bixi designs or create new bikes/stations that are compatible with the existing bikes/stations. I don't know how difficult this would be. 8D can handle the software. Any new bikes would need to fit with the existing docking mechanism.

A lot of issues to be resolved in the coming months. I think Capital Bikeshare will be OK but it might take some time to sort through all of the financial and legal matters. If Alta and 8D do an end run around Bixi Int'l, will Rodi sue or put up roadblocks to prevent Alta from moving on from Bixi Int'l? Rodi is wealthy but how strong is Bixi Int'l's position? Is the intellectual property vital for designing a replacement bike that would be compatible with existing stations (and future Alta/8D stations)? If so, then Rodi has more leverage. If not, then it could be much easier for Alta/8D to move on and forge a new path with Capital Bikeshare and other client systems (Chicago, NYC, et al.).

04-17-2014, 07:33 AM
I hope that other cities are paying attention and don't roll out enormous bikeshare investments on sole-sourced technology. Make an open platform a requirement for a contract, and make the companies compete on merits rather than lock-in. It would be better for the companies in the long run, as cities might be more willing to invest in something if there's less chance their investment might get thrown out when some company has financial problems.

04-17-2014, 08:37 AM
I hope that other cities are paying attention and don't roll out enormous bikeshare investments on sole-sourced technology.

If they were paying attention they should have learned that lesson from the WMATA SmarTrip card supply mess that unfolded about the time Alta started installing Bixi stations: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2010/10/15/technology-lock-in-with-the-dc-metro/

04-18-2014, 01:25 AM
At the same time, Alta does have some leverage of its own. I believe it operates most or all of the (North American) Bixi-based bikeshare systems outside of Montreal/Toronto. The new Bixi Int'l can't play absolute hardball without risking the loss of perhaps its only real customer. Bixi Int'l could attempt to develop relationships with other bikeshare operators and cities, but where? The non-Bixi cities are going with B-cycle or some other systems. They don't need Bixi. Even those cities that haven't signed with any provider yet might be scared off of signing with Bixi Int'l if they destroy their business relationships with Alta bikeshare systems.

I would hope that Bruno Lodi has more than just a financial interest in Bixi Int'l, that he is truly a fan of bikeshare. He is a very active man and an adventurer. That doesn't guarantee that he will be reasonable in negotiating new contracts with Alta systems, but it could be a good sign.

06-03-2014, 09:15 PM
An update on the Alta Bicycle Share-8D Technologies partnership. They announced the first new bikeshare system to use the new supply chain, one that no longer includes Bixi (PBSC). The new bikeshare system is based in Seattle. It is owned by Puget Sound Bike Share, but the operating brand name will be Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share. (I believe that you are required to say "Pronto" forcefully and with emphasis. Otherwise it doesn't really count.)

Alaska Airlines has signed on as a primary sponsor. Their logo will appear on the first 500 bikes as well as on marketing materials sent to bikeshare users. However, the system will not be named after the airline. (Could this be an advertising model for Arlington, D.C., Alexandria or Montgomery County?)

Alta and 8D will provide the docking hardware and software. As for bikes, the April press release said that bikes would be ordered from "a well-known global manufacturer." Seems like Alta and 8D can choose from various bike suppliers for different bikeshare systems, instead of relying on just a single source as Alta did with Bixi/PBSC in the past.

A May 5 announcement did not name the bike supplier. The system is scheduled to begin operations this fall. A basic website is online. They have a Facebook page too. This is the picture of a Pronto! bike from their website. It has a similar design to the familiar Bixi bike, but the down tube is curved and the handlebars have a slightly different set-up.


The face of the future for Alta bikeshare systems? Will new Capital Bikeshare bikes look like this? Maybe. It looks a little spiffier than the old Bixi bikes, but it doesn't matter that much to me either way. I'm just hoping to see progress on the bikeshare supply issues, for CaBi in particular.

This could also mean that Bixi International will no longer be a vital part of the supply chain. It may not have any future role at all. At best, it would be one of a number of competing bidders to supply bikes for bikeshare systems. Maybe Bixi Int'l will narrow its focus to just the two contracts it is retaining.

The Alta-8D press release early this year mentioned that their new docking stations would be more advanced than the old ones. The new stations would dispense bike keys, so new members would not have to wait for a bike key to be mailed to them. (CaBi now has an option for daily members to have a key. Their accounts are only charged on days they use the system, at the higher daily member rate. But those members need to have the keys mailed to them.)

The North American bikeshare industry has gone through some growing pains, but it looks like the companies may be learning some lessons.






10-15-2014, 12:28 AM
Pronto! Cycle Share opened for service on Monday, October 13. As noted above, this is the first post-Bixi ALTA bikeshare system.


10-15-2014, 07:58 AM
Pronto! Cycle Share opened for service on Monday, October 13. As noted above, this is the first post-Bixi ALTA bikeshare system.


Their bikes are 7-speed instead of our 3-speed. I'm jealous!

10-15-2014, 10:42 AM
Their bikes are 7-speed instead of our 3-speed. I'm jealous!

I say crank it up to 11!

10-15-2014, 10:52 AM
I say crank it up to 11!

And none of this Shimano junk. Rohloff only!

10-16-2014, 12:13 AM
Every post about Pronto! Cycle Share must end with an exclamation point! When you visit Seattle and ride one of the bikes, you must shout out every sentence, as if it were marked with an exclamation point!

01-12-2015, 03:12 PM
A new article about Bruno Rodi, the new owner of PBSC Urban Solutions (the former Bixi International division, which markets bikeshare equipment to cities around the world):


The Uphill Push to Save a Bike-Share Pioneer

In one of his first moves, Mr. Rodi hired nearly two dozen developers to fix PBSC’s software problems and then to bring the system into the age of the mobile Internet. He is also crisscrossing the globe to find new customers and to keep existing ones. Mr. Rodi says he is willing to spend tens of millions if necessary to revive the company’s fortunes.

“Will we have success with it?” he said. “Yes, sir, we will have a success with it.”


After buying PBSC, Mr. Rodi made a major strategic shift, by getting the company out of the politically fraught business of actually operating bike-share systems. Instead, it would focus solely on selling hardware and software for others to run.

“We’re going back to our core business, which was to build this machine,” Mr. Rodi said. “I don’t need to worry about how many workers there are on this street or in that city. It’s not my job.”

01-14-2015, 01:12 AM

Alta Bicycle Share was bought out by Related Companies and Equinox. The company was moved to NYC. This isn't news. But the new name is. The former Alta Bicycle Share will now be known as Motivate.

The local system will retain the name of Capital Bikeshare, unless something very strange happens. But it will now by managed by a company called Motivate.

01-20-2015, 01:27 PM
CityLab interviewed Jay Walder, CEO of Motivate (formerly known as Alta Bicycle Share).


He makes a couple interesting points that could be relevant for Capital Bikeshare. (Motivate operates Capital Bikeshare on behalf of the member jurisdictions: DC/Arlington/Alexandria/Montgomery County. However, the Capital Bikeshare site has not been updated. It still lists Alta Bicycle Share as the system operator.) He mentions technology, which is a much bigger problem for Citi Bike because they are using the newer, flawed software that Bixi created (not the superior 8D software used for CaBi). He says that the company is looking to integrate the systems that they operate. This could mean that a Capital Bikeshare member could use the CaBi key and membership to check out bikes in other Motivate bikeshare cities like NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, Boston, Columbus OH, Chattanooga TN, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Motivate also operates the bikeshare system in Melbourne, Australia.

He also mentions integration with other transit systems and the use of smartphones to accomplish that. 8D offers the free Spotcycle app, which displays bike/dock data in near-real time, but it does not allow visitors to sign up for short-term memberships. Perhaps a new Motivate and/or 8D app could accomplish these purposes. WMATA is planning to study the use of alternative methods of payment for MetroRail in the near future. This could include pay-by-phone service and station entrance. If so, could this be tied into the CaBi system somehow? This could be convenient for even annual members. They might be able to check out a bike by waving their smartphone near the reader, instead of using the bike key. The bike key readers could be available as an alternate method, but a smartphone system could make the checkout process much faster. This can remove logjams at popular stations where today, visitors have to go through a slow and tedious process of obtaining individual number codes. If there is a large group, this prevents other people from using the kiosk. (An annual member may need to use the kiosk to ask for the 15 minutes of extra time.)

Alta and 8D already have a partnership to create a new type of kiosk that would allow for key purchases at kiosks. They could also integrate some of these new features. At least the new CEO is looking into these possibilities. I think it would be great to be able to use a CaBi key in all of those other bikeshare cities.

01-20-2015, 08:08 PM
I like the idea of a universal key. I've considered getting a membership for CitiBike but I haven't had enough annual visits to justify it. But using my CaBi key would be great. I hope this moves forward.