Dockless Scooters for Raleigh


@JosABanks its a 300$ yearly fee for each scooter. Added to the fact that they cut Bird’s fleet by 2/3. The money has to be made up somewhere. Of course, the intent of the regs were to stifle the service, so this is an expected result.


Pushing a $2 per ride fee onto each scooter tells me that Bird isn’t really interested in working with the city to address their business impact, rather they are more interested in bilking and manipulating their customers into doing their bidding to put pressure on the city. I am not a rider of the scooters but I’d be damned if I was going to be their free lobbyist.
A $2 per ride surcharge will only increase the profitability of the scooters over time. A scooter only needs to be used 150 a year to make that $300 fee, and they are going to be used way more than that, especially if their quantities are reduced. There are other ways for them to build the $300 into their business model than for them to slap on this surcharge and blame the city, but that isn’t their intention. All I can say is that Bird better be careful, because they could end up losing the city altogether while another operator swoops in (like a bird) and takes it from them.


Do we know if this actually cost the scooter companies any money or not beyond the per scooter fee? Have they provided reliable statistics that fewer scooters equals less money? Maybe the scooters get used more and fewer are sitting idle for longer periods of time. I’d be interested in seeing usage data but I’m certain the companies probably don’t share this stuff.


That’s a good question, and I doubt there’s any real data.
But, one thing is for sure, fewer scooters means less perception that they are littering the sidewalk.


I was going to facetiously note that the $300 per scooter fee is probably a lot cheaper than repeated littering fines :grin: but I don’t need to be that troll-y today.


Say what you want about Bird’s reaction but I’m still not a fan of the way the “Raleigh HOA” handled this. Durham has no problem regulating innovative modes of transportation.


If you only read that one sentence out of context, you might draw that conclusion. What I said is that I understand why the scooter companies entered the market without ‘permission’ but that they should then have begun to work with the City to make the venture successful.


I still disagree. It’s a bully tactic. We have that in DC, and we don’t need it from any entity in Raleigh.


It will be interesting to see how Cary handles this situation as compared to Raleigh…


There are almost certainly fewer scooters in Cary, though, so it probably isn’t as much of an issue.


“A $2 per ride surcharge will only increase the profitability of the scooters over time.” - Having been involved with Bird as a charger since they came to the city, I have some insight you may not. With the reduced fleet and lack of availability (and knowing a surcharge is also likely to reduce ridership) your assumption that each scooter will be ridden “way more than that” isn’t probably as much as you think. Sure, they will recoup their $300 tax before 365 days is up, but this is a company in business to make money.

“There are other ways for them to build the $300 into their business model” - I’m curious what your thought is there. There are two components to their revenue. The start fee and the per minute fee. What’s your recommendation?


The scooter companies should be happy the city didn’t go the same way Seattle did.


Interesting quotes from the article:

“Lime, which operates scooter, bike and electric-bike sharing, says scooters are the most popular, by far. The company said that for each time one of its standard pedal bikes gets used, an electric bike is used more than two times, and a scooter about five times.”

“One reason commonly cited for scooter popularity: It’s a lot easier in a suit or skirt to ride a stand-up scooter than a bicycle.”


I think it’s also because people end up riding the scooters on the sidewalks and not in traffic like the bikes so they feel safer. I just found it interesting that there were no scooters when I was out in Seattle despite them having pretty good infrastructure to support it via bike lanes and cycle tracks.


Well, I’m not a financial guy, but I pay attention to what others do. Bike share has a corporate sponsor like Citrix is for Raleigh’s program. Why can’t the scooters sell ads and sponsorships? Bird must also have some really good data to share with potential advertisers if they can prove that scooter rides come often to the vicinity of their businesses. That same data can also tell Bird how many rides to expect per unit per year as well. This data could be used for determining the balance among rates for sponsorships, activation costs, and costs per unit of time.
It’s very clear to me that the $2 surcharge is an aggressive and resistant response to the fees implemented by the city to elicit anger and backlash by their riders.
Guess what Bird? You are not entitled to your business on your terms alone on public property. IMO, Raleigh hasn’t been the big bad city ruining everyone’s fun. Far “cooler” cities have really taken it to Bird and made life a lot worse for them than Raleigh has.


So Bird is basically completely full of it. Here’s a response from Raleigh City Council:

"Here is my position on Bird’s use of their customers to boost their profits.

I understand that Bird has contacted their customers to announce they are imposing a $2 per ride transportation fee or “tax” because of the regulations passed by City Council. Those regulations outlined how and where the scooters could be used and how much the City would charge for their use of the right of way.

As we were discussing adopting those rules, our police chief expressed concern that adding enforcement of scooter regulations to RPD’s plate was going to stretch staff very thin. This is primarily because some scooter riders choose to ride in ways that put themselves and/or others in danger (e.g., by leaving scooters in places that impede pedestrian mobility or by not wearing helmets).

The City Attorney advised that we could set an encroachment fee to cover the cost of the additional administrative and enforcement resources. We agreed on $300 per scooter, and also agreed to revisit that fee once we had some real experience.

Bird is protesting the $300 per scooter per year and suggesting that the fee should be $100 per scooter per year.

So we are charging them $200 more per year per scooter than they think is fair. In order to recover that $200, a scooter would need to take in an extra $.55 per day over 365 days (or one year). But instead of increasing their fees a small amount to bring in an extra $.55 per day, they are charging their customers an extra $2 per ride. That’s per RIDE, not per DAY.

Bird, a company valued between $1-2 billion dollars is clearly taking advantage of its customers. And now it has them clogging up our City Council inboxes with form letter emails, making it difficult to sift through and find emails that require more immediate attention.

Furthermore, a Portland survey recently found that most scooter riders would have walked, biked, or taken public transit if a scooter had not been available. So they may not be replacing car-generated pollution as much as is claimed. Furthermore their lithium ion batteries don’t last long and then go to landfill.

There has been a lot of chatter about this on social media the last two days and I wanted to give my perspective on the situation."


Thanks for this response. This no surprise to me at all.



Interestingly, 6 months ago Bird was willing to voluntarily give cities $1 per scooter per day, more than the $300 Raleigh implemented. They’ve since ended that.


Yeah I read that not many cities decided to take them up on that offer - except Baltimore who will continue collecting that since it’s written into their agreement with Bird.