Bolt Mobility electric scooters aren’t bolting around anymore. The dockless rental company co-founded by famed sprinter Usain Bolt has reportedly abruptly shuttered in cities across the US, even outright ghosting some city officials (via TechCrunch).
According to the report, Bolt halted operations in US cities including Portland, Oregon, Burlington, Vermont, South Burlington, Vermont, Winooski, Vermont, Richmond, California, and Richmond, Virginia, with confirmation from city officials. The Verge reached out to Bolt through the company’s online contact form, but we have not received any response.
The sudden disappearance of Bolt’s service left a host of e-scooters and e-bikes inoperable and scattered throughout cities in its wake. Bolt was growing in the past few years and had acquired e-scooter company Ojo last year, which had merged with another personal mobility rental company Gotcha in 2019.
The Bolt mobility app is still online (not to be confused with the European Bolt ridesharing app), though my account from 2019 does not work anymore (Bolt was not awarded a license again in Baltimore). The app today allows you to zoom into cities where it was last operating, but cities like Richmond have pop-ups in the app that say it’s no longer available. If you zoom into Miami, it gives another message: “Due to the City of Miami decision, all rentals have been disabled. We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes.” The in-app customer service chat only shows a blank screen now.
It also appears that Bolt’s e-scooters have disappeared from the app’s map. In my own experience, Bolt had the most unreliable connectivity compared to other options like Lime and Spin. I was only able to ride one of Bolt’s yellow “chariot” scooters that have you standing with your feet side by side but uncomfortably separated by a divider. It had a cool little screen, but the scooters were difficult to unlock. Bolt is the latest example of the difficulty in building a scooter rental industry that’s built to last.