The scooter will return to Minneapolis due to an uncertain time
Minneapolis plans to continue its electric scooter sharing program for a third season, even as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the ride-sharing landscape.
This summer, six scooter companies applied to operate in Minneapolis, and a team chose two suppliers: Lyft and Bird.After participating in New York City's two-year scooter-sharing pilot program (Bird in 2018 and Lyft in 2019), they both spent a season in Minneapolis.
Although scooters usually hit the city streets in spring, this year is uncertain."Currently, the city intends to move forward with 2020, although the deployment schedule may change given the coVID-19 situation," city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie wrote in an email.
The situation also raises big questions for scooter companies, such as how to shift the impact of working from home on a massive scale.Does heightened attention to germs make potential riders think twice before grabbing the handlebars?
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Birds Ride Inc.Already feeling the effects of the epidemic, the company laid off about a third of its workforce in March.The TechCrunch blog published a memo from CEO Travis VanderZanden to Bird employees in which he explained that the company had been forced to "suspend" operations in many of its markets because of the pandemic.
The travel restrictions, which include in-place shelter and in-home orders, have also hit SAN Francisco-based Lyft Inc. (NASDAQ: Lyft), which focuses on ride-sharing.The sharp drop in commutes, and the temporary end of everything like restaurants and entertainment in many cities, means less business for corporate drivers.
Lyft also owns New York-based Motivate, which operates a bike-sharing scheme in Minneapolis in partnership with the non-profit organisation Nice Ride Minnesota.Launched on April 6, the bike-sharing program offers free rides for critical health care workers for a month, and Lyft promises to "actively" improve Nice Ride's bike cleaning procedures.
Lyft is one of three electric scooter companies active in Minneapolis last year. Lime is owned by Neutron Holdings Inc., of Sunnyvale, California.Lime, owned by Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), and Spin, owned by Ford Motor Company.From mid-May to late November in the 2019 season, their Minneapolis users logged 1 million rides.
SAN Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: Uber) also received city approval to deploy its Jump scooter in 2019, but never launched it.
Like Lime, Bird is one of the first scooter companies to hit the streets of Minneapolis in 2019.
But it wasn't invited last year.
McKenzie said the Bird and the five other suppliers for the 2020 plan proposal is based on various standards were evaluated, including security, fairness and experience - and by including the city and the Minneapolis park and recreation committee staff team was received, the university of Minnesota and Minnesota department of transportation.Bird and Lyft are high on the list.
Even before the review, the city had decided to limit its program this year to just two scooter companies.Mackenzie said the goal is "to keep scooter companies viable in the marketplace and win as much cooperation and attention as possible to detailed customer service and agreement requirements."