While the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to roil the mobility service and assistance sectors of many countries around the globe, it is gradually pushing the use of electric scooters into a standstill. One of the biggest names in the e-scooter-sharing industry, Lime, made an announcement recently that in light of the coronavirus scare, it will need to put its services in over 2 dozen countries to a stop.
Meanwhile, the Bird is another electric scooter rental service that is going the same route as Lime. It also made a public announcement that it will need to put on hold its operation in at least 6 US cities and all of its European markets.
Ford-owned Spin will also follow their lead and will need to put their services in a few select cities to a standstill. All for the same reason as Lime and Bird have.
These actions involving the untimely suspension of their mobility scooter rental services are a reflection of how fast the US environment is changing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. About a couple of weeks ago, Lime service seemed to be the only one suffering from the bouts of this crisis which by that time has affected only its operations in 2 US states and 3 European countries.
Some months after the implementation of community quarantines in many different parts of the globe began, social distancing became the word-of-mouth of everyone. You will hear it from every major news channel, and staying at home became the new norm for many. All in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus that has already cost the lives of many.
The scenario described above and the worsening of the situation is portending the inevitable drop in demand for scooter rental services. Due to the gravity and the seriousness of the situation, this side of the business sector is bound to suffer a hard blow from the crisis.
Lime, with its investment of around 120,000 scooters in 30 different countries, decided to take the most drastic cutting of measures available to them. It has announced to put on a standstill its service in the following countries: Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Chile, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Israel, Norway, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Romania, Sweden, the UK, and parts of the US.
Scooter-sharing is not the only sector in the mobility service that is suffering from the blows of the pandemic. Ridership in many modes of public transport has cratered too, and by the looks of it, we can surmise that the situation will cause the industry’s fare revenue to just dry up.
Another example to cite here is the ride-hailing services, Lyft and Uber. These two leading service providers in this industry are anticipating precipitous drops in their service bookings, particularly in major cities around the globe that are hit hard by the crisis.
Several weeks of social distancing and calls to remain inside the home have inevitably taken a huge bite off from the usual number of trips normally carried out by these modes of public transportation.
While most people nowadays tend to veer away from the use of shared modes of travel or going in transit in general, we can see a silver lining in the rise of personal mobility trips. Like for instance in New York City, did you know that the East River bridges cycling traffic is up now and over 50% the usual volume?
And in the case of the Citi Bike ridership, they reported a spike of about 70% as opposed to how they fared last year in the same period.
Sad to see that many city officials we have today are not vigilant enough to implement measures that will give needed amounts of protection for these riders now who are making the switch to use bikes as their preferred mode of transportation.
While staying at home and social distancing measures remain a top priority for most of us, how a mobility scooter can make a world of difference in terms of giving us an alternative mode of transportation during this crisis, should be taken into account by the authorities.