ST. LOUIS — Bright orange scooters popped up along St. Louis streets Monday, marking the arrival of the latest company to enter the St. Louis electric scooter game.
San Francisco-based Spin, which was bought by Ford Motor Co. for a reported $100 million in November, launched in St. Louis Monday and plans to deploy 400 scooters in the city.
Plus more competition may be on its way. Lyft, the auto ride-hailing giant, has also applied to the city for authority to rent scooters as well as electric-assisted bicycles this spring.
The companies all use a dockless business model, where customers don’t have to return scooters to a docking station.
Customers instead use smartphone apps to find and pay for the GPS-equipped scooters. When they reach their destination, they park and lock the scooter until the next customer picks it up.
The city caps each company’s local fleet size at 2,500 scooters, though none of the companies have yet reached that number, said Scott Ogilvie, city transportation policy planner.
Bird and Lime each has 500 to 600 scooters deployed in the city this month, up from lower levels during the colder months, Ogilvie said.
Spin’s pricing matched Lime’s cost in St. Louis Monday: Both companies charge $1 to unlock a scooter plus 15 cents for every minute of the ride. Bird was charging $1 to unlock a scooter, plus 26 cents for every minute of the ride as of Monday.
Lime entered the St. Louis market last spring with rentals of traditional pedal-powered bicycles and later added electric scooters. The company began reducing its bike fleet last summer as the public flocked to scooters, then announced in February it was removing its bikes altogether from the St. Louis market.
Lime has said it plans to offer electric-assist bicycles here at some point but hasn’t told city officials when that will happen.
The city places restrictions on all electric scooter companies, including requirements that they share data with the city, carry insurance, pay a permit fee and place at least 20 percent of their fleet in designated lower-income areas.
About a month ago, the city also instructed EMS crews to track scooter-related injuries, Ogilvie said.