The City of St. Paul is set to sign a five-year deal with Lime to bring e-scooters back to the capital city.
On Wednesday, the council will vote on whether to accept a contract with the San Francisco-based vendor to deliver electric-assist scooters through 2022, with the possibility to renew for four more one-year periods if all parties agree. Since 2018, when Lime and a major rival, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Bird, swooped into the Twin Cities market unregistered by the many municipalities in which they operate, St. Paul has allowed e-scooter sharing programs.
Both enterprises eventually requested permission, rather than forgiveness, and have operated under year-to-year agreements that have been reviewed by the city council, St. Paul Public Works, and other municipal officials.
City authorities have not said if e-bikes or Bird scooters would return, but they did say on Thursday that they are in talks with a number of shared mobility companies. While Nice Ride, a nonprofit bike-sharing vendor and Lyft partner, continues to operate in Minneapolis, bike-sharing — either e-bikes or more traditional Nice Ride bikes — hasn’t been available in St. Paul since 2019.
The city and Minneapolis signed a memorandum of understanding last autumn to participate in a joint solicitation campaign with the objective of coordinating comparable offerings on both sides of the Mississippi River. Lime is also back in Minneapolis.
Lisa Hiebert, a representative for St. Paul Public Works, said, “Each of us is putting up unique contracts.” “This year, we’re hoping to establish a scooter and bike-sharing program in St. Paul.”
E-scooters are described as a “emerging new mobility option that has proven very popular in other cities across the United States and internationally for moving around town using a low-carbon mobility option” and “an important and valuable transportation service for St. Paul residents and visitors” in the written resolution that the city council will vote on next week.
Lime will pay the city a trip charge of ten cents per journey for any trip that begins or finishes within the city, according to the terms. St. Paul receives these payments on a monthly basis.
Lime will pay a “park impact tax” of 20 cents per scooter for any rides that originate or terminate on city parks, in addition to standard trip expenses. The city will also be compensated at a cost of $35 per scooter for staff time spent relocating or removing scooters from banned sites, as well as a $20 per day storage charge at the city’s Dale Street Public Works facility.
Unless a scooter is obstructing maintenance or city activities, the city must notify Lime of the problem before transferring the scooter to a permitted site. Lime will have two hours to comply, or ten hours if the issue was reported between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.