News: Quick Takes

Citing tough regulations, top electric scooter companies are leaving Raleigh

CJ file photo
CJ file photo

Raleigh residents soon won’t see Bird or Lime e-scooters zipping around town. Electric scooter companies, Bird and Lime, announced March 28 they were leaving Raleigh, citing city regulations as the driving force.

In statements to WRAL news, the e-scooter companies said they will be leaving North Carolina’s capital.

“Our time in Raleigh must come to a close, but we hope to return in the future when city officials are ready to be more amenable to our business and industry as well as the needs of their constituents,” Sam Reed, a spokesman for Bird, told WRAL.

“Despite our efforts to partner in good faith, the city has decided to impose some of the most onerous regulations in the country, and unfortunately, we cannot continue to operate under such restrictive rules,” Todd O’Boyle, a spokesman for Lime, told the news outlet.

Bird plans to end operations by April 30, while Lime hasn’t set a departure date.

The two companies failed to submit their proposals to work with the city by March 26, the deadline imposed by the Raleigh City Council. A city spokeswoman told the News & Observer that Bolt, Gotcha, Lyft, Spin and VeoRide submitted proposals to operate e-scooters in the city.

E-scooters began appearing in the city last summer even though Bird and Lime hadn’t consulted with Raleigh officials. Council members imposed a series of regulations including fees of $300 per e-scooter in addition to application and administrative fees. Companies had to offer between 50 and 500 e-scooters, provide monthly reports to the city, adopt diverse payment options for low-income riders, and deploy 20 percent of their e-scooters in city-designated “Communities of Concern.”

Initially Bird and Lime were going to stay in Raleigh and follow the rules, though Bird added a $2 transportation fee to their rides in response to the City Council rules.

Jon Sanders, director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, called the regulations a de facto ban when they were first announced.

“This was pretty much a fait accompli when Raleigh dumped its regulations on them,”  Sanders wrote after the companies announced their departure. “They were, as I argued then, crafted ‘to interfere with their business model so as to make the things infeasible.’”