- File: Colin Flanders ©️ Seven Days
- A Bolt hub along the Burlington waterfront
Florida-based Bolt Mobility owns the 200 electric bikes used in the Burlington area's Greenride Bikeshare program. A contract with three municipalities and the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association grants the company exclusive rights to the local market.
But CATMA executive director Sandy Thibault told Seven Days that she received an email from Bolt last week announcing the company had "ceased operations" at the beginning of the month and was letting employees go.
She declined to share the email with Seven Days but said her attempts to reach the company since then have been unsuccessful. She's unsure whether the entire company has closed or whether Bolt has just decided to ditch Vermont.
“We are still awaiting that news,” she said.
In the meantime, officials are unsure what to do with the bikes Bolt left behind. On Thursday, CATMA shelved the fleet indefinitely; signs posted to Bolt hubs across Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski now indicate the bikes are “out of service.”
A Bolt spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday afternoon.
Bolt wanted to expand into even more municipalities this year, according to Thibault, but was stalled by supply chain issues. As recently as May, the company signed a new agreement with CATMA and the three cities that gave it more time to expand, she said. Bolt had recently scheduled a meeting with local officials to discuss its plans.
That made the recent retreat "pretty surprising," Thibault said. She said she has been Googling news about the company’s future but has been unable to find any information.
Indeed, a quick online search shows no indication that Bolt’s quick exit from Burlington represents a broader trend.
The company, which was cofounded by eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, announced a major investment a few months ago that it said would allow it to continue expanding its business. Its website also shows that it is working to release a fleet of electric mopeds.
Thibault said she expects local leaders to look for a new vendor. “Bike-share is an important option in our transportation network,” she said.