Just days before the City’s new contract with three scooter operators was set to take effect, one of the companies selected, Lime, announced it was withdrawing from the San Antonio market, citing a recent decrease in demand.
“As part of our path to profitability, Lime has made the difficult decision to exit San Antonio and focus our resources on markets that allow us to meet our ambitious goals for 2020,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “… We appreciate the partnership we’ve enjoyed with San Antonio and remain hopeful we can reintroduce Lime back into the community when the time is right.”
Along with San Antonio, Lime is leaving San Diego, Atlanta, and Phoenix, the company said.
The San Francisco-based company said decreased ridership and higher fees contributed to the decision. With the three contracts set to begin on Monday, the City’s scooter fleet was set to shrink from more than 5,000 to 3,000, and the number of companies from seven to three.
A regional repair center Lime opened in San Antonio last year will be moved to Austin, the company said.
City officials were caught off guard by Lime’s decision Thursday morning, as the City was in the midst of negotiating a contract with the San Francisco Bay area-based scooter company. In a statement released that afternoon, the City said it would continue negotiations with Bird and Razor, the two other companies with which City Council approved contracts last month, and authorize 1,000 vehicles per company for a total fleet of 2,000.
The two-year contracts can be modified, with Council approval, and there remains the potential for additional vehicles or companies to be added.
“The City will continuously monitor the market and collect data on dockless vehicle usage, and in the event the data supports additional permits, City staff will present City Council with a recommendation,” the City said in the statement.
Previously, rideshare giant Lyft withdrew its scooters from the San Antonio market in a wider contraction across the nation. When Lyft, which was originally selected for one of the three contracts, pulled out, the City replaced it with Bird, which ranked fourth in a City-appointed evaluation committee’s rankings.
Ford-owned Spin was ranked fifth in the scoring by the evaluation committee and appears to be out of the picture for now.