Micromobility taxes, fees often out of sync with city policy goals: study

Shared micromobility is a relatively young industry. The first bike-sharing system in the U.S. was Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, which began in 2010. Bird launched the first electric scooter system in the U.S. in 2017, followed by Spin and Lime in 2018. Bird acquired Spin in 2023, and both are now operating under a new private parent company following Bird’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December.

The biggest obstacle for the micromobility industry “is, ironically, cities,” said Lime’s chief operating officer, Woody Hartman, in a January interview. “Sometimes the goals of a city unintentionally make the service less desirable and actually hurt the demand for this industry in the long term.”

The researchers surveyed city staff in 95 U.S. cities in 2023 and 2024. In setting program fees, administrative costs were a major or moderate consideration for 77% of survey respondents. Other considerations included influencing operator behavior, ensuring financial feasibility for shared scooter companies and enabling lower costs for riders, according to the survey.

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