Lyft, Lime, Razor Recommended for 3 City Scooter Contracts; Bird Falls Short

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Lyft scooters are lined up among other scooter brands along East Commerce Street.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Lyft, Bird, Razor, and Lime scooters stand along East Commerce Street.

An 11-member committee chosen to evaluate scooter company bids to be permanent fixtures in the local scooter-share market has selected California-based Lyft, Lime, and Razor to operate in the City beyond this fall, when a pilot program is slated to end.

Santa Monica-based Bird is one of the two most-popular providers in town, but it appears to have scored poorly on the City’s evaluation rubric, which considers the quality of a company’s proposal, its finances, and experience in the market, among other criteria.

Bird also ruffled feathers last year when it released its scooters in downtown San Antonio without giving the City notice. That grated on City Council members, who later felt the heat from many of their constituents complaining of public nuisances brought on by the electric scooter trend, including sidewalk clutter and safety concerns.

Of the three recommended companies Lyft is the least-established in the city’s scooter fleet, which comprises just over 6,000 so-called dockless scooters. The rentable, app-enabled scooters can be reserved for $1 and the services charge typically 15 cents per minute of use.

But Lyft is a public company that has an established presence in San Antonio – with its rideshare services having operated here for years. The company also has a service center and office near the San Antonio International Airport.

Lime arrived about a month after Bird in summer 2018, perhaps creating less tension with local government with its June launch. Months ago, the company opened a regional repair facility in North San Antonio that is set to create about 50 local jobs.

Razor, which manufactured toy scooters popular in the 1990s and 2000s, deployed its San Antonio fleet in October 2018. In addition to stand-up scooters, seated scooters equipped with baskets also feature in the company’s fleet.

Including Bird, the staff recommendation leaves out applicants Spin, owned by automotive giant Ford; Wheels; OjO Electric; VeoRide; and Frog.

Uber, whose micro-mobility arm Jump operated in San Antonio for a few months, pulled its electric bikes and scooters off the streets in June citing its desire to focus on other markets. The company did not apply to be considered for one of the three City permits.

Blue Duck Scooters, the only locally owned and operated scooter-share company, was set to bid for a permit, but the company failed to meet the City’s deadline by one minute.

Under the new pared-down scooter scene, the local fleet will decrease to 5,000 vehicles – with each company receiving permits for as many as 1,666 scooters. At its peak, the fleet had ballooned to 16,100 e-bikes and e-scooters.

The City of San Antonio declined to comment until the recommendation is considered at City Council’s B Session meeting on Wednesday. The Council will be briefed on the recommendation ahead of a vote at a later meeting.

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