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Nickel Ride shuts down service

Margie Manning

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The Nickel Ride, a free transportation service in downtown St. Petersburg and other Florida cities, has suspended its service, according to media reports.

Demand for the company’s free rides exceeded expectations, WINK-TV in Fort Myers reported. The company relied on advertisers for funding and was unable to sustain the business, WFTX-TV in Cape Coral said.

About 12 drivers lost their jobs as a result, said WBBH-TV in Fort Myers.

Fort Myers-based Nickel Ride sent the St. Pete Catalyst a statement, confirming the reports.

“As you’re aware, with our current model we are100% subsidized by our Advertisers and rely on their support for sustaining our free rideshare model. Unfortunately, we could not obtain the necessary growth we needed to remain operationally efficient in our current locations. It is with this in mind, we write to you that starting today, July 8th, 2019, our rideshare model will be suspended indefinitely,” the statement said. 

Nickel Ride is transitioning to a new business model, a program called Nickel Wraps, focused on the emerging gig economy.

“This model will allow us to leverage top Uber and Lyft drivers to advertiser on their cars, provide an even bigger reach, both with generating impressions for Advertisers’ ads and ROI. They will get access to our brand new dashboard that has real-time impression analytics reporting and impression demographics businesses won’t find anywhere else,” the statement said.

Current advertisers will either get refunds or transition to the new program, Judah Longgear, founder and CEO, told WINK-TV.

Nickel Ride started operations in downtown St. Petersburg in 2017 with a fleet of electric vehicles, and relaunched last year, the St. Pete Catalyst previously reported.

It had vehicles on the street seven days a week and was part of a consortium of groups backing the public awareness campaign, Car Free St. Pete.

The company also had operations in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Naples.

Overall, Nickel Ride cut gas consumption by about 850 gallons, reduced about 10 tons of carbon emissions and gave more than 100,000 free rides across Southwest Florida. It also dropped off tens of thousands of residents and tourist to destinations in the communities it served to promote the growth of the local businesses, the statement said.

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