Ford-owned Chariot today announced that it will cease operations, shutting down its commuter shuttle service in the U.K. and U.S. over the next few months.
Chariot operated a fleet of vans that provided an alternative to public transit in San Francisco and New York City. It also ran an enterprise business that let companies ferry employees to and from work in Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Denver, and Detroit.
Chariot will shut down its commuter routes in the U.K. on Jan. 25 and on Feb. 1 in the U.S., according to a blog post penned by Chariot CEO Dan Grossman. By the end of March, all services, including enterprise routes, will end.
“Chariot was built on a commitment to help reduce congestion, ease the commute and improve quality of life in cities, and since our start, we have provided our customers with more than 3 million rides,” Grossman wrote. “In addition, we helped Ford build their mobility business, and their experience with Chariot continues to inform their mobility efforts and design decisions for the future.”
Chariot launched in Seattle last year, opening an office in the city where it worked with companies. This past October, it inked a partnership with King County Metro to let commuters request shuttle rides to and from transit stations.
Chariot launched five years ago and raised a $3 million seed round after emerging from Y Combinator in 2015. Ford acquired the company two years ago for a reported $65 million. It was the automaker’s first acquisition under its new Ford Smart Mobility arm. TechCrunch reported that Chariot had 625 employees.
Offering rides on a private shuttle that’s a bit more expensive than a public bus — but perhaps more convenient and comfortable — isn’t a new business idea. Numerous startups, including some in Seattle, have attempted to make it a viable service. Some of the biggest companies employ their own fleets of buses to drive employees to work. Microsoft’s Connector busses are well-known throughout the Seattle area, and Amazon launched a shuttle program for its employees in 2016.