Chariot, Van Company Hired to Enhance Transit in Denver, is Shutting Down

A Chariot shuttle in front of Union Station. The company will halt operations on Feb. 1. Photo: Chariot.
A Chariot shuttle in front of Union Station. The company will halt operations on Feb. 1. Photo: Chariot.

Chariot, the startup Denver hired recently to enhance the city’s transportation options, will shut down.

Today the Ford-owned company told employees that the app-based van service would halt U.S. operations on Feb. 1. The San Francisco Examiner originally reported the story.

It’s an embarrassing end to a service that, just two months ago, was enthusiastically hyped by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who launched a pilot program with the company to provide rides in and around downtown, Capitol Hill and the Cherry Creek district.

“[The Regional Transit District] is the foundation of our mass transit system and does a fantastic job, but we can’t sit back and expect RTD to solve all our transportation problems,” Hancock said in a statement back in October.

Denver invested $250,000 in the pilot program after RTD planned several recent service cuts, including those that will start this Sunday. The University of Denver also uses the company to offer subsidized transit service to its students and staff.

Chariot has been operating since October in Cherry Creek North — but when contacted today by Streetsblog, the area’s business improvement district said it was unaware of the announcement by Chariot, which told Streetsblog that it will help customers like the business group to “develop a transition plan.”

The two-month-old pilot was off to a good start, said Stuart Anderson, executive director of Transportation Solutions, a foundation that promotes transportation alternatives in Southeast Denver and the Cherry Creek area.

“We’re quite disappointed,” Anderson said. “Our pilot at DU was tremendously successful and our pilot at Cherry Creek was growing.”

Ford purchased Chariot in 2016, one of many moves that appeared to show the company’s interest in mobility options beyond cars. But earlier this week, Ford also dropped its bike-sharing sponsorship, which emblazoned its logo on bikes in San Francisco. Chariot was also operating in New York; Seattle; Columbus, Ohio; and Austin.

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