Every micromobility company authorized to operate in Santa Monica except Lyft has raised prices on scooters and bikes, making public options like Breeze Bike Share substantially cheaper than the venture capital-funded dockless devices.
Bird, Lime, Lyft and Jump, which is owned by Uber, operate in Santa Monica under a pilot program with the city of Santa Monica that began last September and will end in January. When the pilot program launched, Bird, Lime and Lyft scooters cost $1 to unlock and $0.15 per minute, while Jump scooters and bikes were originally free to unlock and cost the same per minute. Jump later added a $1 unlock fee.
Over the past two months, Bird, Lime and Jump have increased the cost of unlocking or renting scooters and bikes in Santa Monica. Bird scooters now cost $0.26 per minute, Lime scooters cost $0.23, Jump scooters cost $0.26 and Jump bikes cost $0.30. Lyft is the only company that has maintained its prices since the start of the pilot program.
Several recent trips of up to 1.5 miles cost between $3.30 and $3.60 on a scooter. The same trip would cost $3.95 in an Uber Pool or $5.90 in a regular rideshare vehicle. The fare on the closest applicable bus route is $1.25 with an accompanying walk of four blocks.
City spokesperson Constance Farrell said the pilot program does not set or control pricing, but the city wants the program to be affordable and accessible.
As part of the program, each company must pay $20,000 annually, $130 per device annually, and $1 per device each day. The permitting costs are similar to what Los Angeles and other neighboring cities charge micromobility companies to use the public right-of-way.
The four companies are allowed to deploy a combined 2,000 scooters and 1,000 bikes within city limits.
Bird, Lime and Jump said they have raised prices to maintain financial and operational stability.
“As we enter the busy summer travel months, we’ve adjusted our pricing in some markets to ensure that our service is reliable and that we can continue to offer excellent operational support where riders demand it most,” a Lime spokesperson said.
A Jump spokesperson said the company expects operational costs to increase this summer in Santa Monica because of increased demand. Jump expects the higher pricing to make more devices available because people will use them less frequently, the spokesperson said.
“We want to build a viable operation in Santa Monica that allows us to serve our riders for years to come,” the spokesperson said. “Our new pricing brings us in line with the market so that we can continue to deliver clean and reliable transportation with bikes and scooters, with a sustainable business model.”
Jump maintains a low-income option on its Boost Plan where riders pay $5 a month for 60 minutes of ride time each day, the spokesperson added.
Lyft also offers a low-income program called Lyft Community pass that costs $5 per year and offers unlimited 30-minute rides, a Lyft spokesperson said.
For the majority of users, however, the price hikes have made Breeze, the city’s bike share program, about half as expensive as renting a dockless scooter or bike. Breeze charges $0.12 per minute, $25 monthly and $99 annually.
Metro’s bike share program, which in Santa Monica stations bikes at Expo Line stations, costs $1.75 every 30 minutes, $17 monthly and $150 annually.
Breeze reported earlier this year that it was losing revenue and ridership to dockless competitors, prompting local officials to discuss restructuring the service or its funding, half of which comes from Hulu.
Councilmember Ted Winterer said in February that making the Breeze fleet dockless and electric would allow the program to better compete with private micromobility companies. Currently, riders pay a fee if the bikes are not returned to a Breeze rack.
There are no planned price increases for Breeze, Farrell said.
“Breeze Bike Share is an important part of Santa Monica’s shared mobility landscape with 500 bikes in every neighborhood,” she said. “Breeze continues to be an affordable and convenient transportation option and is a favorite among locals.”