Second E-Scooter Company Plants Its Flag in Cheyenne
‘Micromobility’ firm Lime follows competitor Bird Global into Wyoming capital
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Jun 25, 2023
A row of Lime scooters await riders across the street from the Cheyenne Depot Plaza, near the museum that showcases the railroad station built in 1886 by the Union Pacific Railroad. Lime began offering its electric scooters for rent in the city last week. (Courtesy photo from Lime)
By K.L. McQuaid
Special to the Wyoming Truth
The Cheyenne e-scooter war of 2023 has begun!
The opening salvo came Monday, when San Francisco-based Lime scooters began operating in the city—two years after chief competitor Bird Global Inc., introduced shared electric scooters to Wyoming’s capital.
In the latest bid to increase what operators call “micromobility,” Lime plans to roll out a fleet of up to 300 electric scooters throughout the city leading up to the Cheyenne Frontier Days festival in late July.
“We’re trying to scale up to a full fleet over the next several weeks,” said Jacob Tugendrajch, a Lime spokesman.
The scooters offered by Lime, a subsidiary of Neutron Holdings Inc., may be accessed via the company’s app or through the app operated by ride-sharing giant Uber, with whom it has a partnership.
Lime’s scooters will rent initially for $1 per ride and an additional 29 cents per mile.
Bird Global, Lime and others tout e-scooters as a “safe, affordable and sustainable” method of transportation and an alternative to cars and trucks.
Both companies say their mission is “decarbonize transportation globally” through fleets of electric scooters, e-bikes and mopeds. Lime’s machines can travel up to five miles at a clip.
Bird Global calculated its ridership in Cheyenne, during its first year of operation, prevented 12.98 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, said Tom Mason, director of Cheyenne’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
In addition to Cheyenne, Lime maintains scooter fleets in Western cities such as Boise, Idaho; Denver; Salt Lake City; and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In all, the company operates in 250 cities across five continents and says it has provided over 400 million rides to customers.
When Lime came to town earlier this year, city officials were ready for the scooters. But in 2021, when Bird Global debuted, the concept was so new that Cheyenne had to enact a set of ordinances to regulate the machines.
“We had no ordinances in place, there were no business licenses for them and nothing from a regulatory standpoint,” Mason said. “We had a lot of work to do.”
Bird takes flight
City and MPO officials decided the Bird Global scooters would be treated the same way bicycles are: they’d have to be ridden on the street, they couldn’t be on sidewalks, etc.
Cheyenne charged Bird Global an annual fee of $200 plus $5 per scooter it operated to do business in the city.
And while results were soft initially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept took off in 2022.
From January through October 2022 – when Bird Global paused operations for winter – Bird Global’s 240 scooters were ridden 39,000 times for a total of 92,000 miles.
Not bad for 10 months in a city with a population of about 64,600 residents.
“They did really quite well,” Mason said. “They were very pleased.”
Lime noticed the performance, too, setting the stage for a fight for supremacy between Bird Global’s robin’s egg blue scooters and Lime’s – what else? – lime green machines.
The battle may be won, at least in part, by the company that can flex the most economic muscle.
Lime last year became the first micromobility company to post a profitable year through 12 months of operation, with adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $15 million.
At the same time, the company reported its gross bookings rose by one-third to a record $466 million.
That performance came after Lime in late 2021 received $523 million in debt financing from the likes of the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund, Fidelity Management & Research, Uber and other investors.
Not to be outdone financially, publicly traded Bird Global posted first-quarter revenue of $29.5 million, with its adjusted EBITDA rising by 60%, according to the company.
Mason, the MPO director, said that the scooter operations remain a work in progress. He directs interested citizens and riders to www.plancheyenne.org, then to Plans and Programs and a dropdown that contains information on scooter ridership rules, a map, the city’s ordinances that were enacted and ways to file complaints.
“We currently regulate where the scooters can go, but for now, there’s no limit on how many different operators can come into the city,” he said.
And more e-scooter companies may be on the way. Speculation has arisen that Spin and Superpedestrian, two other major e-scooter operators, are also eyeing Cheyenne with the aim of entering the market.
For its part, Lime is thinking beyond Cheyenne.
“We’re already talking to Laramie about bringing our scooters there,” Tugendrajch, the Lime spokesman, said. “We’re hoping that our introduction into Cheyenne will eventually allow us to expand our footprint throughout the state.”