Paris has chosen its electric scooter operator,media The Verge reported. Thanks to the forward-looking leadership of the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, the city has quickly become a paradise for bicycles, walkers and scooters, and the city has chosen Lime, Tier and Dott as their scooter companies. Each company will receive a two-year contract that will allow it to deploy 5,000 electric scooters across the city, totalling 15,000.
The result is a huge victory for Lime, a San Francisco-based company that lists Uber and Google as its main investors. It is also a significant loss for Bird, Lime’s main rival. Bird, a scooter-sharing pioneer, had planned to use Paris as its “second home” by hiring thousands of people to work at its new European centre in Paris. A spokesman for Bird did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Electric scooters can be rented through a smartphone app and will appear on the streets of Paris for the first time in 2018. But then the electric scooter industry grew rapidly, causing about 20,000 scooters to flood the streets. Hidalgo described the scooters as “anarchy,” while Transport Minister Slisabeth Borne told Le Parision that the city was experiencing “the law of the jungle.”
Last year, the city announced a plan to control the chaos by selecting three official operators. “We need order and rules to ensure road safety and calm our city’s streets, sidewalks and communities,” Hidalgo said in 2019.
A total of 16 scooter-sharing companies responded to the city’s tender. Lime, the only company to win a contract in the U.S., said it was “delighted to be one of the winners.” Berlin-based Tier hailed winning the “world’s largest tender for electric scooters”. The Amsterdam-based company, Dott, posted a photo of its team celebrating on Twitter.
Hidalgo, who recently won re-election almost exclusively by eliminating cars in the city to promote bikeand foot action platforms, said the scooter operator’s choice was based on three criteria: environmental responsibility, user safety, and managing scooter maintenance and charging. She also called on scooter riders to respect road rules, noting that 2,500 dedicated scooter parking spaces are being set up across Paris.
The choice of scooter operators in Paris could have far-reaching implications for the micro-travel industry in Europe and the United States, especially as the new crown pandemic is driving more mergers and consolidations. Paul Asel, managing partner of NGP Capital and an investor in Lime, told Business Insider in June that the Paris decision was likely to lay the groundwork for the future operations of only two or three European companies.
Initially, THE COVID-19 brought the scooter industry to a standstill. The number of users has fallen sharply as scooter companies tow vehicles off city streets. Bird and Lime, the two largest companies in terms of fleet size and valuation, have seen massive job cuts in recent months, with about 580 full-time jobs eliminated.
But the industry is slowly recovering as interest in bicycles and other alternative forms of transport re-emerges. As they seek safe ways to travel, city dwellers are also using scooters for longer trips. Last week, Lime reported that scooter strain has increased by 34 percent, on average, since the start of the new crown pandemic, and 18 percent longer.