Lime announces it is pulling scooters out of San Antonio

Scooter company was recently awarded City contract

SAN ANTONIO – Lime announced it will no longer operate in San Antonio and 11 other markets across the globe.

The scooter company said Thursday it will “close the market” in San Antonio in the coming weeks, and scooters will no longer be available for rent in the next few days.

Lime was just approved for one of three exclusive city contracts to operate up to 1,000 scooters in San Antonio on Dec. 12. The contracts, which were also awarded to Bird and Razor, would have permitted up to 3,000 scooters on the streets beginning on Jan. 12.

Lime, Razor and Bird get San Antonio scooter contracts

In a statement, Lime said it was a “difficult decision” to leave San Antonio, but it is refocusing its resources to “meet our ambitious goals for 2020.”

"We appreciate the partnership we’ve enjoyed with San Antonio and remain hopeful we can reintroduce Lime back into the community when the time is right.”

The scooter company added that a decrease in ridership and higher fees contributed to the decision to leave the city. It also said it would be moving its Regional Repair Center from San Antonio to Austin.

When the city council voted to approve the three operators for the contracts, negotiations were not complete. Tech Block CEO David Heard said that while he wasn’t involved in the negotiations, he was privy to some details.

“I think it really came down to the revenue sharing plan - how much money and how much of it upfront was required by the city and some of the data-sharing components to the contract. I think it’s unfortunate because my understanding is the city and Lime were very close. I mean, we’re talking about just a few small items,” Heard said. "And at the end of the day, it may have been something else that drove their decision corporately. But I do know that there were some concerns about some final tweaks to the contract.”

Asked about Heard’s comments, a city spokesperson said Lime had agreed to the revenue structure prior to the council’s December vote.

In a statement, the city said “Lime’s decision to withdraw from San Antonio was made in conjunction with its decision to withdraw from 11 other national and international markets. It was not made as a result of contract negotiations with the City of San Antonio.”

The city also released a separate statement regarding Lime’s announcement:

“City of San Antonio staff will proceed with contracts with Bird and Razor to operate dockless vehicles in San Antonio. On December 12, 2019, City Council approved contracts with Lime, Razor and Bird to operate dockless vehicles as a result of a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. Bird and Razor will keep the permits capped at 1,000 per vendor for a total of 2,000 permitted dockless vehicles. The City will continuously monitor the market and collect data on dockless vehicle usage, and in the event the data supports additional permits, City staff will present City Council with a recommendation.”

Customers with remaining funds in their account can be refunded, or use the credit in other cities where Lime operates.

In addition to San Antonio, Lime also said it is leaving Atlanta, Phoenix and San Diego, as well as eight other cities in Central and South America.

Lime CEO Brad Bao said online that the company is shifting its “primary focus to profitability.”

“While the vast majority of our 120+ markets have adopted micromobility transportation solutions quickly and are profitable, there are select communities throughout the world where micromobility has evolved more slowly,” Bao said in an online post. “For this reason, we have made the difficult decision to close 12 markets across the globe at this time.”

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