New York City’s days as one of the last remaining holdouts in the boom of dockless electric scooters have finally come to an end. The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced the selection of Bird, Lime and VeoRide as participants in the inaugural e-scooter pilot.
The companies are expected to be operating in the Bronx with 1,000 scooters each by early summer. The pilot is expected to last only one year, but DOT has the option to renew the licenses at the end of the term. The department also said it expects most scooter rides to cost less than $ 5 on average to customers.
It has been over a year since New York State finally lifted its ban on electric bicycles and throttle scooters, removing the latest obstacle that kept scooter companies away from the country’s largest and possibly most lucrative market. Since 2017, companies such as Bird, Lime, Spin, Scoot, and others have deployed hundreds of thousands of China-made e-scooters in cities around the world – and yet New York City has remained stubbornly scooter-free due to state law governing their use.
At the time, the legalization of e-scooters and e-bikes was seen as a huge boon for immigrant delivery drivers who were the target of a crackdown by the police for their use of e-bikes. Under the new rules, scooters would remain illegal in Manhattan, although the city could eventually overrule that provision. But the legalization also opened up the debate about how New York City should regulate shared scooters on the streets.
Ultimately, the city landed on a one-year pilot with three businesses in just one neighborhood, the Bronx. Assuming all goes well, the city is expanding its catchment area to new neighborhoods after the first year and enabling participating companies to increase their number of scooters in use to 2,000 each.
License winners include two big names – Bird and Lime – and a smaller one, Chicago-based VeoRide, which offers both standing and seated versions of its scooters. All three are not allowed to use “gig” labor to charge and balance their scooters according to the pilot’s rules. The companies are also prohibited from compelling customers to agree to any terms of service that contain binding arbitration or class action waiver.
Despite these limitations, the companies sound super pumped about their roster. All three companies used a variation of the word “honored” in their written statements. Next up is London, which is expected to announce choices for its shared scooter pilot soon.