On Demand Shuttle Operator to Cease Operations in Nine Cities

San Francisco-based shuttle operator Chariot, acquired by Ford Motor Company in 2016, will end its operations by March in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, New York, Columbus, Detroit, Denver, and London.

2 minute read

January 12, 2019, 11:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

"As you know, the mobility landscape is rapidly changing, we’ve made the tough decision that Chariot is not going to be a sustainable business moving forward,” Erin First, a spokesperson with Chariot, told Joe Fitzgerald Rodrigueztransportation reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, on Thursday.

The startup began operations in San Francisco in 2014 and outlived its two fellow private competitors, Leap and Loup, all providing a microtransit alternative for commuters who had mostly relied on the city's public transit fleet, known as Muni, composed of buses, light rail, streetcars and cable cars. It was acquired by Ford Motor Company in late 2016.

Chariot offered rides in small buses the size of vans to the public, in a system similar to Uber where riders can request stops using a mobile phone app. The company mostly mirrored Muni’s most popular bus routes, ferrying riders from the Marina to the Financial District, and other neighborhoods throughout The City.

"February 1 will be the last day we will offer service on our commuter routes in the U.S.," said CEO Dan Grossman in a statement. "We will cease all operations across the US and in the UK by the end of March.

"A ride on Chariot cost between $3.80 and $5.00, depending on the time of day, and monthly passes ran up to $119," reports Adam Brinklow for Curbed SF. "The company operated more than half a dozen routes in San Francisco."

"Chariot wouldn’t provide many details about why the service was shutting down except to allude to failing ridership numbers," adds Kirsten Korosec for TechCrunch.

Reports of sluggish demand and company morale had been trickling out for months now. A post in August by Streetsblog noted that Chariot’s shuttles in New York were empty most of the time, according to data provided by the company and evaluated by transit analyst Eric Goldwyn. That analysis found that Chariot’s fleet of 25 or so vans was serving around 1,000 riders total, or about nine riders per vehicle per day.

Korosec describes how Chariot fit in with the other mobility services acquired by, and expanded under, Ford Motor Company in the Ford Smart Mobility division which includes bike share in the Bay Area.

Ed ReiskinDirector of Transportation of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency told The Examiner's Rodriguez that "it wasn’t a surprise that Chariot faced challenges."

"We know from our experience and needing to serve all the people of San Francisco that transit requires a subsidy,” Reiskin said. “The idea that mass transit can be offered under a private for-profit model I think is a questionable proposition.”

Thursday, January 10, 2019 in San Francisco Examiner

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Ice fishing tents surrounded by fence in Safe Outdoor Space for unhoused people in parking lot in Denver, Colorado.

An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans

Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.

March 1 - High Country News

An electric bicycle is shown with the legs of a human who is riding the e-bike.

Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16

State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.

March 1 - Oregon Capital Chronical

Aerial view of canal cut into beach in Charlestow, Rhode Island with boats parked in sand.

Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year

Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.

March 1 - University of Rhode Island

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.