As the city pursues a bike rental partnership, the transportation service Gotcha announced it will end operations effective immediately.
The potentially imminent arrival of a new transportation option in the city of Sarasota has triggered the departure of an existing service.
Gotcha, a transit company that launched a paid on-demand vehicular transportation service earlier this year, announced today it would stop operating in Sarasota effective immediately. In a statement, the company said the decision came after the city selected the company VeoRide to operate a bike share service.
Gotcha and VeoRide both submitted proposals to the city to operate bicycle and scooter rental services. Caroline Passe, Gotcha's director of public relations, said via email the company saw VeoRide as a competitor. As a result, Gotcha decided over the past month not to continue its vehicular transportation service.
“Having competing micro-mobility companies in a small market will be challenging, and for that reason, we have decided to stop our operation,” the company said in the statement.
City spokesman Jason Bartolone said in an email the city is finalizing a contract with VeoRide. He said details about implementation of a bike share program, including the number of bicycles, are still to be determined.
“Their proposal was chosen based on their qualifications and knowledge of bicycle share systems, their operations in similar markets, the quality of their equipment and an outline for making the bicycles available to people without smartphones or credit cards for the purposes of social equity,” Bartolone said in the email.
The city will consider the possibility of establishing an electric scooter service separately from the bike share service at a later date, Bartolone said.
Gotcha began operating in Sarasota in 2017, partnering with the city on the i-Ride circulator service. The city approved a subsidy of up to $338,000 to Gotcha, which operated a fleet of electric vehicles offering free rides to users in the downtown area.
Although the city hoped i-Ride would become self-sustaining after its first two years, in 2018, Gotcha said it would need continued funding from the city to keep the service free. Later that year, the city terminated its agreement with Gotcha. In January, Gotcha launched a new service — independent from the city — that cost $3 per ride.