Bridj, the on-demand bus service that abruptly ceased operations in Boston and Washington, D.C., earlier this year, has announced that it’s relaunching roughly 10,000 miles and 20 hours of air travel away in Sydney, Australia.
“The BRIDJ business has been purchased by Australian operator Transit Systems who will be commencing services in Sydney, Australia, later this year,” the company wrote in a Facebook post last week. “The BRIDJ team is working towards recommencing operations in the USA in the future.”
The announcement is substantiated by trademark and business filings in Australia, BostInno reports.
Bridj operated in the U.S. as a venture-funded company that had raised over $4 million by the time it shut down. It was modeled on the idea of combining an Uber-like ride-hailing app with shuttle buses that operated in a somewhat on-demand fashion. Fares ranged from $1.50 to $7 a ride, and since launching in 2014, the company had expanded from Boston to Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, although operations in Kansas City ended shortly before the company-wide closure.
Bridj sold itself as “a cut above the MBTA in terms of comfort and sophistication,” Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow wrote for Next City in 2014. Its proprietary technology monitored traffic and adjusted routes as needed; it offered free wifi, no stops, and deliberately kept the buses less than full.
But transportation experts saw in its demise one of transit’s thorniest issues: how to keep a transportation system afloat without heavy subsidies.
“For everyone who wonders why public transportation has historically required a subsidy, this is the answer to their question,” Jim Aloisi, a former state transportation secretary who monitors transit in Boston, told the Boston Globe in May. “Mobility is expensive, and it doesn’t make a profit.”
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.