Article Originally Published by Ileana Garnand on North Texas Daily
VeoRide confirmed it ceased serving Denton after Transportation Services contacted the company when it learned all VeoRide rental bikes had been removed from campus at the start of the fall semester without explanation.
VeoRide Regional General Manager Joe Brummer provided the North Texas Daily with additional context regarding the company’s departure.
“After one year [on campus], we realized that in order for us to be sustainable and profitable, we’d need to add electrified vehicles to our fleet,” Brummer said.
The city previously decided to ban electric scooters from service in Denton in 2018.
Confusion surrounding the disappearance of the VeoRide rental bikes on campus was not limited to students, Transportation Services Communication Specialist George Stieren said.
“Despite an agreement in writing that ran through the end of the year, we had no knowledge of Veo’s decision until we reached out to them after learning the bikes were removed,” Stieren said.
VeoRide informed Transportation Services of the decision Sept. 5 after the department contacted the company.
Beginning its partnership with the university prior to the 2018 fall semester, the bike-share service included 400 bikes placed around campus and offered service throughout Denton.
Today, the company’s advertised fleet consists entirely of electric vehicles, including three different bikes and a scooter. In 2019, the bike-share service began replacing a portion of its manual bikes with various electrified versions across the country.
During this transition, VeoRide initiated talks with the university requesting to add electrified vehicles to the on-campus fleet. The university was “not open to the idea” according to Brummer. In June of 2020, VeoRide submitted a written request offering a ratio of pedal bikes to electrified vehicles for the fall semester.
“In August, we were informed that we would not be allowed to expand our fleet to include electric vehicles, and therefore, we made the decision to exit the market,” Brummer said. “Leaving the Denton/UNT market was not an easy decision as we’ve enjoyed our partnership with [approximately] 13,000 riders in the community since August of 2018.”
The closest Texas VeoRide market is now Texas A&M University, located over three hours away from Denton.
VeoRide’s unpublicized decision to leave Denton greatly affected media arts senior Andrew Clarke.
Clarke, who works on campus but lives 20 minutes away, has used VeoRide for a year. He utilized the service when buses were not running and even enjoyed a designated area for the rental bikes at his apartment complex.
“I actually purchased credits the day they pulled out of Denton completely,” Clarke said.
The bikes were removed during the first week of the semester when Clarke worked until midnight the entire week. Originally assuming the bikes had been taken in for a cleaning, he emailed VeoRide after a few days. As of Tuesday, the company has never responded.
“I still have yet to come up with a plan to help my transportation, seeing as I have until December I’m fine enough for now,” Clarke said. “But I have to do a lot more walking. Especially with the shorter bus schedule due to COVID. I’ll probably purchase myself a bike to use. But I’m more worried about bike thieves, which were never a problem with Veo bikes.”
Computer engineering sophomore Addison Johnson used the service last year, with nearly 350 rides registered. This August, they renewed their $40 subscription to VeoRide.
“After a few days, there were even fewer bikes on campus, and there were never any near the residence halls,” Johnson said. “I checked the app and saw that they were all — and I mean all — congregated in one place, a bicycle store that I think they use for storage or maintenance.”
After reaching out to VeoRide on August 27, the company informed Johnson its contract with Denton had not been renewed and the bikes would be removed from the area.
“To date, I haven’t gotten any widespread email telling people that they are pulling out of Denton,” Johnson said. “I think it’s ridiculous that they aren’t telling people this. I wasn’t offered a refund until I asked.”
Featured Image: Four VeoRide bikes are parked behind the Business Leadership Building near the new dining hall construction site on Oct. 14, 2019. Image by Theophilus Bowie
Source: North Texas Daily