As the local coronavirus outbreak reaches its sixth week, Santa Monicans have three types of scooters and two types of bikes to use for essential trips.
People who need to work at or visit essential businesses can still find Lyft, Bird and Jump scooters and Jump and Breeze bikes throughout the city. Lime, the fourth private company that was authorized to operate in Santa Monica, stopped deploying scooters during the pandemic.
In mid-March, Lime pulled scooters from two dozen countries, including the United States, citing public health guidance. The company told the city of Santa Monica that it would permanently halt service effective April 1.
The three private companies that have remained in the city are disinfecting their devices each time they are recharged and offering free rides for critical workers.
Bird temporarily paused service in some cities last month, but continued serving Santa Monica with a reduced fleet of about 100 scooters. Medical workers and emergency personnel have access to free rides.
The company is also maintaining an interactive map of restaurants offering takeout and delivery that accept Bird Pay, a service Bird launched in February.
Lyft has continued scooter service and is offering first responders, transit workers and healthcare providers free, 30-minute rides through the end of May. The company is prioritizing scooter deployment near local hospitals.
Jump, which is owned by Uber, is still operating bikes and scooters in Santa Monica and offering free rides for healthcare workers and first responders, a spokesperson said.
Breeze Bike Share, the city-owned bike share system that has lost ridership and revenue to micromobility companies over the past two years, is also still in service and free to use during the pandemic. Riders can unlock bikes in person or through the Breeze app.
The city of Santa Monica previously allowed up to 2,500 scooters and 750 bikes to circulate in the city. Fleet sizes could be altered based on operator performance and demand.
Since demand fell sharply at the end of March, Bird has been permitted to deploy up to 350 scooters, Jump 350 bikes and 100 scooters, and Lyft 350 scooters, said Kyle Kozar, who manages the city’s Shared Mobility Pilot Program.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the city was planning to launch a second pilot program in July. The program, which was approved by City Council in January, will reduce the number of companies authorized to operate in Santa Monica from four to two or three.
The application is open to all micromobility companies — not just the four currently authorized to operate in the city — and the program is scheduled last from July to December of next year.
Operators who have sustainable charging and deployment practices and tools to keep devices off sidewalks will be prioritized in the selection process. Companies with stable fares and low-income rates will also be given preference.
City Council also decided to give preference to local companies and companies that have not pulled out of other markets.
Bird is the only company headquartered in Santa Monica, but in late March laid off 30% of its global staff as ridership tanked during the pandemic. The company did not confirm how many of the more than 400 workers who were laid off were based in Santa Monica.
Lyft and Jump stopped deploying scooters and bikes in some cities last year, and Bird has paused service in several markets in the last two months.