Lime, Bird, and Spin Set to Ride in St. Paul

City staff have selected electric scooter network operators Lime, Bird, and Spin for the 2019 season, and the City Council will decide whether to approve those contracts at its Wednesday, April 24, meeting. Read the agenda for the meeting.

All three vendors are based in California. Lime (the brand of Neutron Holdings Inc.) is based in Fremont, Bird in Santa Monica, and Spin (owned by Ford Motor Co.) in San Francisco.

According to the contract that each vendor signed, they will be limited to 500 scooters at first, but may be approved for more based on several factors, including the number of other vendors. With an overall cap of 2,000 scooters, that could calculate to over 650 scooters per vendor.

There are a number of fees specified in the contract. There is a fee of $100 per scooter for the 2019 season. When combined with the high cost of scooters (reportedly $551 for Bird) and short life expectancy (according to one study, an average of 28.8 days), it will be difficult to max a profit by the end of the riding season. There are also fees for rides that begin or end on parkland ($0.25 per scooter per trip) and a hefty fees when the city has to move the scooter for any reason ($35 per scooter per move and $20 per day per scooter for storage at a Dale Street facility).

Two Lime riders riding scooters down a park sidewalk

In media photos, Lime riders always wear helmets. Photo: Lime

In Minneapolis, the average revenue per trip in 2018 was $3.85. To recoup the startup costs of operating one scooter, Bird would likely have to have the scooter run three trips per day for 56 days. This does not include the variable cost of paying independent contractors to charge or swap batteries.

With Nice Ride leaving the market, electric scooters will have an open season on the streets of St. Paul.

Nationally, in 2018 there were 84 million trips by shared mobility platforms like bike share and scooters, with the plurality from electric scooters.

Which electric scooter brand do you prefer? Have you ever received a speeding ticket riding a scooter? Share your insights and your stories in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Lime, Bird, and Spin Set to Ride in St. Paul

  1. John Maddening

    hefty fees when the city has to move the scooter for any reason

    Ugh, I can see this being used by the antis pretty easily. Pick up a properly parked scooter and drop it in the middle of the street, on a park path, in a handicapped parking spot…anything to make it more difficult or costly to keep providing service.

    As for which ones I like better, I like Lime’s app, but I like Bird’s larger wheels for stability on rough (potholey) terrain.

  2. Anon

    When we tax this environmentally-friendly, congestion-reducing business out of the twin cities (like we did with Car2Go), it won’t hurt better-off folks like me because I bought my own scooter. Sorry poorer people! Enjoy [indirectly] paying those fees & taxes which I avoid. Sorry Planet Earth!

  3. Jesse Peterson

    Bird and Lime, similar to Uber and Lyft, will never be profitable. They are not viable businesses. No one involved in leadership in any of these four companies is interested in any serious way in providing a more environmentally friendly form of transport, filling in some missing part of the urban transport mix, or anything of the sort. What they want to do is attract sufficient VC money to stay afloat long enough to get to an IPO, sell shares at that IPO, and distribute the financial responsibility to those VCs thusly when the flagrantly unprofitable businesses go tits up- they are not looking for shareholders, they are looking for bagholders. These are quasi-Ponzi schemes that you’re sticking up for, people.

    Please do more research and try to recognize the signs of a tech company using progressive-sounding language in their marketing. It’d be a different story if these scooters were being provided by Metro Transit or some other entity with a legitimate interest in public interest, but the way they’re being provided now is frankly not anything anyone with an interest in accessible public transit should be advocating for. Hell, Uber and Lyft (both of whom are getting into the scooter game) have all but acknowledged the destruction of traditional public transit as a goal! You really think these people’s interests and yours are aligned?

    1. Conrad ZbikowskiConrad Zbikowski Post author

      One thing to note is that initial investors are locked in for about six months after an IPO. Lyft has dropped nearly 28% from its first-day peak on March 29. Lyft “will release financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2019 after the close of the market on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.” Should we expect more contraction?

      1. Jesse Peterson

        A valid point, could be why Carl Icahn didn’t wait until the IPO to jump ship. Regarding more contraction after the May 7th earnings report, hard to say, but it seems unlikely it’ll inspire much additional investment even if their push with rider incentives lately helps them show some sort of profit, given the very loud chorus of analysts saying “sell.”

  4. Walker AngellWalker Angell

    If I’m understanding this correctly… A scooter that requires less space, produces no wear & tear on infrastructure, produces no pollution (air, noise, light, ground or water), increases the health of citizens, reduces healthcare costs, and most importantly does not result in many deaths and serious injuries… Is discouraged by high fees?
    But a car that requires very considerable space (approx 28x), causes significant wear & tear on infrastructure that our tax dollars must pay for, produces considerable air, noise, light, ground and water pollution, decreases health and increases healthcare costs, and results in many deaths and serious injuries every year… Is good?

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