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).
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.