Traveling by electric scooter is something that makes a lot of sense for people who live in warm climates. It cuts down on traffic and carbon emissions. It’s both convenient and affordable.
Electric scooter company Lime has been operating in Tempe for several months. During that time, they’ve been in negotiations with the city to arrive at reasonable standards and charges for their operations. They recently announced their decision to move out of Tempe.
Electric Scooters in Tempe
Lime has been in operation in Tempe for several months. In that time, their services have become quite popular. In their letter to the City, the company noted:
- Over 80,000 people in Tempe, including residents, students, and visitors, have ridden Lime scooters.
- Approximately 24,000 people have consistently made the decision to travel via scooter instead of by car.
- Residents have been hired by Lime and earned extra money charging scooters on their behalf.
Lime also noted that they’ve held public safety seminars, handed out helmets, and in total, invested about $3 million in geofencing and other initiatives to make scooter riding safe for everybody.
The success and popularity of their program made their decision to pull out of Tempe a painful one.
The Cost of Doing Business in Tempe
On February 11, 2019, Lime publicly released a letter they sent to the City of Tempe advising officials of their decision to leave. They listed two primary concerns as the reasons for their departure.
The first has to do with the liability burden the City has placed on both Lime and scooter riders. The liability issues are:
- The liability agreement indemnifies the City of Tempe of any responsibility to maintain roads and sidewalks to keep them safe for people riding scooters; and
- It requires riders to sign a liability waiver that calls scooter riding “inherently hazardous.”
Lime says that the requirements create a barrier to rider usage in terms of safety. The designation of something as “inherently hazardous” is typically reserved for things like setting off fireworks or handling radioactive material.
The second issue is the licensing fees required for scooter companies. The company notes that the fee works out to $1.06 per vehicle per day, or $386.90 per vehicle per year. They say that this amount is about 20 times as high as the car tax. They also say that it impacts their ability to continue to offer the low-income Lime Access program.
The good news is that despite its decision to pull out of Tempe now, Lime remains committed to working with city officials to arrive at a solution that makes doing business in the city affordable for them. They say they are committed to negotiating a flat permit fee and per-ride fee that will allow them to serve Tempe residents in the future.
Lime is leaving Tempe for now, but the company remains hopeful that their decision will create a desire on the part of Tempe officials to negotiate terms that are equitable for both parties. Tempe’s scooter-riding enthusiasts are hoping that they succeed.
Here is a news story about Lime exiting out of Tempe: