Texas A&M Transportation Services may not renew its contract with VeoRide bike share next year due to the continued misuse of the bicycles.
In an email announcement sent to A&M students on Friday afternoon, Transportation Services said that while the current contract ends on Dec. 31, an “increasing level” of actions including bikes blocking ADA ramps, sidewalks, doors, vandalism and “unsafe antics” have caused the department to reconsider keeping VeoRide. The department has requested a bike share system that allows for bicycles to be locked to a rack and is considering a smaller geofence to “ensure an appropriate number of bikes are available on-campus and to make the program more manageable.”
However, VeoRide may be unable to meet those requests, and a decision will not be made by the time the semester ends. Students have been advised to visit transport.tamu.edu, where an update will be posted by Jan. 7.
The teal bicycles that started arriving on campus in January were not the first dockless bike-share — yellow Ofo bikes had been on campus from February to October 2018.
College Station revoked Ofo’s license in mid-October 2018 after the company’s auto liability insurance coverage lapsed, which prevented the employees from accessing the vans they needed to collect and relocate bikes. The license was reinstated later that month, but A&M announced in November that it was going to switch to VeoRide. In December 2018, Ofo’s license was revoked by College Station again after the company failed to replenish its escrow account.
Leftover Ofos that were originally planned to be recycled were donated to local nonprofits in February this year.
In the midst of challenges presented by the yellow bicycles, College Station created a bike-share ordinance that went into effect in August 2018. The ordinance had regulations, including the city having control over the program’s geo-fence and the creation of a relocation fee for improperly parked bikes that Ofo didn’t move.
When Transportation Services introduced Ofo to campus in February 2018, representatives told The Eagle it was a sustainable way to increase transportation options on campus. Additionally, Alternative Transportation Manager Ron Steedly said it was a way to reduce the number of bicycles left on campus that were not being used. In the February 2018 article, Steedly said that studies led by the department showed approximately 6,000 bikes were left on campus every night, while 2,000 bikes traveled around the campus regularly.
If the contract with VeoRide is not renewed, students will be able to receive prorated refunds if they have paid in advance for services, according to Transportation Services’ Friday email.
Texas A&M Transportation Services could not immediately be reached for further comment.