A change to the local regulations governing dockless devices will require Bird to pull 250 scooters out of Santa Monica while allowing Lyft an additional 500 scooters and Jump 250 more bikes.

City of Santa Monica staff said Bird has generated a higher number of complaints and issues than the other three operators authorized to operate in Santa Monica, while Lyft and Jump have adhered to the regulations under the city’s shared mobility pilot program as the demand for their devices has increased. Lyft and Jump’s larger fleets will bring the total number of scooters and bikes in Santa Monica from 2,500 to 3,000. 

The city will be accepting public comment on the changes in fleet sizes until close of business Wednesday.

The city launched the pilot program last September, selecting Bird, Lime, Lyft and Jump, which is owned by Uber, from a pool of last mile companies that applied to operate in Santa Monica. 

The program set safety and operational requirements and allowed each company to operate a certain number of scooters and bikes that could change based on rider demand over the program’s 16-month lifespan. Bird and Lime launched with 750 scooters, while Lyft and Jump were permitted to deploy 500 bikes and 250 scooters. 

But Lyft, which is based in San Francisco, did not launch the 500 bikes within the 30-day window permitted by the program, instead applying to increase its scooter fleet to 750 scooters in November, February and March. Lyft told the city that having fewer devices than the other three companies put it at a competitive disadvantage.

The city rejected the requests because its ridership did not average more than four riders per scooter per day, which is the threshold the city set to approve a fleet increase.

In June, Lyft’s ridership reached an average of 4.7 rides per day and the city approved the company’s request based on its compliance with the program’s regulations, commitment to community engagement and proactive approach to solving issues, city staff said. 

“We value our partnership with the city of Santa Monica and we’ll continue to provide the best experience we can with our in-house operations,” said David Fairbank, Lyft’s Los Angeles manager. “We’re grateful that the city of Santa Monica has proposed increasing Lyft’s scooter fleet size so we can continue to provide a sustainable and affordable ride option to even more riders.”

San Francisco-based Jump also requested to increase its fleet in November, February and March without the ridership required by the pilot program. In June, rides per Jump bike reached 4.6 per day. The city decided to partially grant its request for another 500 bikes because of the parking and spatial challenges posed by the larger devices.

“Jump has also demonstrated a commitment to be responsive to community feedback and has worked quickly to resolve issues and comply with pilot program requirements,” city staff wrote Monday. “The city has observed the Jump e-bikes to be durable, well maintained and well utilized. The e-bike’s larger size, however — compared to e-scooters — can pose additional parking/spatial challenges in the public right of way.”

A Jump spokesperson said the decision to expand the bike fleet reflects a constructive working relationship between the city and the company, as well as local demand for more Jump bikes.

“We’re encouraged that the report praised us for having a durable, well maintained and well-utilized fleet, and look forward to expanding on this program to serve more Santa Monica residents,” the spokesperson said.

Bird, however, has failed to comply with the many of pilot program’s regulations, city staff said. The company launched in Santa Monica in September 2017, making the city the first in the world to adopt dockless scooters.

Now, Bird will be left with only 500 scooters in the city. City staff said they decided to reduce the company’s fleet because they observed Bird improperly deploying, maintaining and responding to issues with its scooters. The company has received many more community complaints than the other operators, staff said.

The city also requires scooter companies to share ridership data and staff said they have observed consistent anomalies in Bird’s data. Bird has one week to address the data issues, after which the city will review Bird’s data and determine the company’s future participation in the pilot program, staff said.

“Bird cares deeply about serving Santa Monica — the city we call home. We are working with city officials to address some of the discrepancies they have raised and plan to refine our procedures accordingly,” a Bird spokesperson said. “In the meantime, Bird will continue to offer our service to Santa Monica residents who recently voted Birds as the best-maintained vehicles in the city.”

The changes in fleet sizes follow price hikes from every company except Lyft over the past few months.

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 fee to unlock scooters.

Bird, Lime and Jump have since 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.

This article was updated July 17 at 9:07 a.m.

madeleine@smdp.com

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3 Comments

  1. E Scooters are litter just like the paper waste all over Los Angeles. E Scooters are a plague

  2. Most residents are not anti scooter. We are anti entitled little oiks leaving them blocking the sidewalk where elderly, disabled residents or parents with prams can’t get by. A simple solution – if a scooter is left anywhere it shouldn’t be, the rider should continue to be charged for its rental until it is parked properly. The scooter companies could do this easily. They have chosen not to. Hit them where it hurts – in the wallet.

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