Boston bus operator Bridj drops its monthly pass option

NewBridjVehicle

Private bus operator Bridj has found that its monthly pass proved to be a little too popular.

Matt George, the Boston-based startup’s chief executive, said his firm stopped offering its monthly pass option this week. Customers used to be able to spend $70 per month and get unlimited rides on Bridj shuttle vans. But as their passes expire, they won’t be able to renew, George said. Instead, they will need to buy one-way tickets that typically sell for $2 to $5.

George said Bridj buses were essentially getting filled up during peak travel times. Getting rid of the monthly passes, he said, should open up more space on the buses. One-way trips can be reserved in advance using a mobile app.

“It allows us to be more flexible in the face of larger-than-expected demand,” George said. “A large majority of trips were sold out, and that’s a real issue if you’re relying on Bridj. … [This is] a move toward a level playing field for everyone.”

George said the company is nearly doubling the size of its Boston fleet by mid-January to help keep up with demand, although he declined to disclose the number of buses in its fleet or the number of local users.

Bridj’s buses are geared toward urban white-collar workers. Its routes are concentrated in parts of Cambridge, Brookline, and Boston where demand is heavy. Each bus has enough room for 13 or 14 riders, George said. The company begin running buses in Boston in 2014, raised $4 million in funding that fall, and expanded to Washington, D.C., in April.

George said that the number of ticket sales has increased by at least 30 percent each month in recent months, making it tough to keep up with the demand.

“Every time we add new supply, it gets eaten up pretty quickly,” George said.

Some customers complained on Twitter about the elimination of Bridj’s monthly passes.