RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Update, May 22, 5:14 p.m.: In a new press release, the City of Richmond said that Bewegen Technologies gave just two days notice before shutting down the city’s RVA Bike Share stations.
The city now says they’re seeking a new contractor, and will offer a month of free rides to all residents when one is found.
Richmond’s e-bike sharing program has abruptly shut down as the private company that runs the stations has encountered financial difficulties, leading to the closure of similar programs across two continents.
“RVA Bike Share is closed,” the RVA Bike Share wrote on its website. “As of now, it is no longer possible to unlock bikes. We will provide further notice if the system reopens. We are sorry for any inconveniences.”
The program, which was funded in large part by public money, included 22 bike share stations from Battery Park to the Broad Rock Sports Complex, but mostly concentrated on the downtown area. The city didn’t run those stations itself, however, it was instead contracted with Bewegen Technologies, a Canadian company that ran similar programs around the world.
Richmond residents could purchase annual memberships for $96, but had to return the bikes back to the dock after 45 minutes during each ride, or risk incurring fees.
While the RVA Bike Share’s website offered no explanation for the sudden closure — and no timeline for a potential re-opening — several other programs run by Bewegen Technologies in cities like Raleigh, North Carolina and Tartu, Estonia, have also shuttered in recent weeks.
In April, Raleigh announced that its Cardinal Bikeshare would be shutting down temporarily due to the sudden termination of its contract with Bewegen. In the Estonian city of Tartu, officials wrote that the company was the “subject of restructuring proceedings in Canada” and that due to “financial difficulties” the company was attempting to illegally end its contract with the city.
Similar programs run by Bewegen have also shut down in New England and South Carolina.
But in April, Bewegen took to Twitter to deny that it was going bankrupt, writing “This is fake news, Bewegen has not [filed] for bankruptcy. We continue to work with our clients.”
Whether working with their clients will include transitioning Richmond’s Bike Share to a new operator, however, remains to be seen.