• Lime now only e-scooter game in town. Company tops 100,000 rides as competition moves on

    By: Debbie Cockrell, The News Tribune

    Updated:

    TACOMA, Wash. - Two e-scooter sharing services competed for Tacoma’s business last fall, but only one has chosen to stick around.

    According to the city’s Public Works Department, Bird did not pursue a permit extension, logging 22,816 rides in the city on its e-scooters during its permit period, which started in the fall and ended in February.

    Lime announced this week that more than 100,000 rides were taken in Tacoma on its scooters since its September launch.

    Tacoma’s Public Works says other vendors have indicated interest in Tacoma’s scooter-share program, but for now Lime remains the only one operating in the city. 

    Lime representatives said the number of rides in Tacoma was notable because the bulk of its trial period was during bad-weather months that included record snowstorms. Lime shared ridership and other city ridership comparison data this week with The News Tribune.

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    Earlier this year, the company gained an extension on its operations in Tacoma through Sept. 30.

    Lime has doubled its scooter numbers in Tacoma from the original 250 at pilot launch. It removed its fleet of e-bikes in early February as a result of low usage.

    “Tacomans showed us they clearly like scooters, preferring them over e-bikes by a 3-to-1 margin,” said Isaac Gross, Lime’s general manager for Washington state, in a news release. “We responded to public demand for more scooters.”

    Don’t hold out hope for the bikes to make a comeback, at least from Lime.

    Jonathan Hopkins, Lime’s director of strategic development for the Pacific Northwest, told The News Tribune in an emailed statement: “We do not plan to return e-bikes to Tacoma because ridership was not sufficient to underwrite the cost of the bikes.”

    According to Lime, scooter trips were broadly distributed across the city, with more than half outside the downtown core. Lime’s also encouraging more usage through its Lime Access program, offering reduced rates for those enrolled in a city, state or federal low-income program. More details at https://www.li.me/community-impact.

    Tacoma’s not alone in increasing its e-scooter supply, with Lime planning to add another 250 scooters to its Boise fleet as that city plans to triple its number of scooters citywide for a total of 1,500. Boise also saw a third company apply to operate there — Ford Motor Co.’s Spin Scooters.

    Lime noted that direct comparisons with Tacoma’s program against other cities would be difficult at this stage, in that the city kept scooters on the street through the winter.

    According to the company, Spokane last year recorded nearly 150,000 trips taken on about 300 Lime scooters and bikes during a 73-day pilot program there that ended in November, with 108,400 of those trips on scooters. In Portland last year, Lime counted approximately 400,000 trips on 683 Lime scooters during the first 120 days of its four-month pilot that ended in November.

    Nine crashes involving Bird and Lime scooters had been logged by the companies and Tacoma Fire Department through Jan. 7, according to information presented to the City Council during a Jan. 15 study session. No further accidents have been reported, according to the fire department.

    Comments from the public on e-scooters in Tacoma are still being taken through the city’s 311 phone network and via email at bikeshare@cityoftacoma.org.
     

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