Chariot, the private bus startup, is going out of business.
On Thursday, CEO Dan Grossman announced Chariot will cease all operations by the end of the March. The decision to close the service was made after "significant consideration," he wrote in a blog post. It appears the company's business model wasn't viable.
"It has become clear -- through many indicators such as ridership -- that the mobility services delivered by Chariot over the past five years will not be a sustainable solution going forward," a Chariot spokeswoman said in an email.
Chariot's goal was to provide an alternative to public transportation for a slightly higher fee -- usually between $1.50 to $3 more per ride. The serviceand has since spread to nine other US cities and to Ford in September 2016.
The company focused on shuttling commuters from outer neighborhoods to downtown areas and financial districts using midsized vans. Grossman said Chariot provided more than 3 million rides over the past five years. Some urban planners havefor catering to affluent clientele and unfairly competing with cities' public transit systems.
The startup tussled with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency last year for running routes along city bus lines, according to the San Francisco Examiner. This caused the city agency to establish new regulations that barred Chariot from creating any more routes that mirrored public transit lines.
"We are going to continue to do our work to provide and improve Muni [public transit] service for more than 730,000 riders a day across the city," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said of Chariot's closure. "We will continue working to ensure that our service is easy, convenient and affordable for all San Franciscans across the city."
Chariot isn't the only private shuttle startup to end operations. Competitor Leap, which launched a luxury bus service (complete with Blue Bottle coffee and cold-pressed juices) in San Francisco in 2014, also closed. Leap wasafter not securing proper operating permits from the state of California.
Grossman said Chariot will halt all of its bus routes in the UK on Jan. 25, followed by a US shutdown of service on Feb. 1. All other operations at the company will terminate by the end of March.
First published Jan. 10, 3:21 p.m. PT.
Update, 5:12 p.m.: Adds comment from a Chariot spokeswoman and from SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.
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