After the passage of new bike-share fees—allowing a brand-new set bike-share rules to take effect—reactions from existing bike-share operators was mixed. Spin said it needed more time, Lime enthusiastically announced it’d be sticking around, and Ofo announced it’d be packing up its yellow bikes and leaving. Now, there’s an official end date for Ofo service: August 31.
When Ofo first announced its departure, the company attributed the decision to the new fee structure, which adds up to $250,000 for a fleet 5,000 bicycles (or $50 per bike). Fees go toward administering the bike-share permit, addressing equity issues, and developing parking solutions for the bicycles.
“We appreciate the efforts of City Council and SDOT in crafting new requirements for dockless bike share in Seattle,” said Lina Feng, Seattle general manager for Ofo Seattle, in a statement at the time. “The exorbitant fees that accompany these new regulations—the highest in the country—make it impossible for Ofo to operate and effectively serve our riders, and as a result, we will not be seeking a permit to continue operating in Seattle. We’re incredibly disappointed to be leaving the first U.S. city to welcome Ofo and thank the city for its partnership and support this last year.”
Ofo announced its exit date in an email sent to users (reported by Geekwire), noting that it’d be “partnering with various nonprofit organizations” to figure out a use for the operational bikes. The non-operational bikes will be recycled (like the massive piles of bikes left at a Dallas recycling center in a now-viral photo). Remaining balances in Ofo accounts will be refunded within 45 days.
An Ofo spokesperson told Curbed Seattle that the company is still “exploring donation partners.”
The new bike-share permitting system, which includes new fees and higher standards for operators, should be in place this September.