Chariot, the bus shuttle startup, is going out of business
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Chariot, the private shuttle bus start-up, is going out of business.
January will be the last month of service and commuters who've come to rely on it, are surprised.
"It's a huge bummer, I take it to and from work every day," San Francisco commuter Shayla Ousey told KTVU.
Ousey climbs in a 14-passenger van for the cross-town trip from her home in the Marina District to her job South of Market.
It costs $10 round trip, less than half the cost of an Uber at peak times, and much quicker and more reliable than Muni, she said.
"I reserve my spot, know exactly when I was taking it, really convenient, two blocks from my work, and dropped off two blocks from my house," said Ousley, "plus San Francisco transportation is terrible."
When Chariot launched five years ago, it was billed as "commuting re-invented."
The bright turquoise vans were eye-catching, as they expanded service to 10 U.S. cities, plus London.
In congested cities where public transit is maxed-out, Chariot was another choice, app-based, and crowd-sourced, so its routes reflected rider demand.
Chariot encountered but overcame early criticism for siphoning customers from public transit while using public bus lines.
Monthly passes were popular, and Chariot boasted it had given three million rides so far.
But Ford Motors paid $65 million for the startup two years ago, and is now launching deep corporate cuts to its plants, auto production and jobs.
Chariot shuttles seem to be a casualty of the restructuring.
"I'm very disappointed," said one Chariot driver through her open window, as she picked up passengers downtown.
In a statement the company said it is "thankful for employees' hard work and dedication", even as some 700 people will soon be laid-off.
The statement also reads, in part, "the wants and needs of customer and cities are changing rapidly. We apologize for the inconvenience."
Riders, with a few weeks to adjust, are apprehensive about losing the Chariot option.
It's going to affect commuters everywhere, in these major cities," said Ousley, "and on the bus, my commute doubles from 45 minutes door to door to probably an hour and a half, so I'm bummed."
Customers with credits past Feb. 1 will receive refunds.