Lyft is one of four companies authorized to deploy scooters within city limits. (Madeleine Pauker)

The days of $0.15 per minute scooter rides are officially over.

Lyft announced Thursday that it raised prices from $0.15 to $0.26 per minute. The price hike comes several months after the other three micromobility companies authorized to operate in Santa Monica — Bird, Lime and Jump, which is owned by Uber — raised prices on scooters and bikes.

Lyft’s prices are now aligned with Bird and Jump scooters, while Lime scooters cost $0.23 and Jump bikes cost $0.30. All devices cost $1 to unlock.

Every company said it raised prices to maintain financial and operational stability.

“We’re committed to ensuring scooters are accessible and affordable for all riders in Santa Monica,” said Lyft spokesperson Alex Rafter. “Increasing prices will allow us to improve operations and make sure scooters are available throughout the city.” 

Rafter added that Lyft offers a $5 per month pass for low-income residents. Jump also operates a similar program.

The four companies 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.

Scooters and bikes are now only slightly less expensive than Uber Pool and Lyft Shared rides, and the city’s public Breeze Bike Share program is substantially cheaper — although it has lost riders to the venture capital-funded dockless devices in the past two years. Breeze charges $0.12 per minute, $25 monthly and $99 annually.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus costs $1.25 per ride, only $0.25 more than the cost of unlocking a scooter or bike.

City spokesperson Constance Farrell said in July that 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.

When the pilot program launched, the four companies were allowed to deploy a combined 2,000 scooters and 1,000 bikes within city limits. In July, the city asked 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 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.

Lyft, which is based in San Francisco, did not launch the 500 bikes it was allowed to deploy in September and instead applied three times to increase its scooter fleet to 750 scooters.

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.

Lyft told the city that having fewer devices than the other three companies put it at a competitive disadvantage, and the city enlarged its fleet in June when its ridership reached an average of 4.7 rides per day. City staff said the company complied with the program’s regulations, engaged with the community and proactively solved issues.

madeleine@smdp.com

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