Wake County

Bye bye Bird and Lime. New electric scooters arriving soon in Raleigh.

A new electric-scooter company is set to arrive in Raleigh as Bird and Lime end their rocky relationship with the city.

Gotcha, a South Carolina-based company, held an introductory event Monday with plans to unroll a fleet of 150 scooters in the coming weeks.

“The most important thing is to give us a shot,” said Sean Flood, CEO of Gotcha. “Whether you’ve had a great experience or not great experience with the last scooters, give us a chance. Be open to the benefits of the product and be open-minded about a new company.”

Bird and Lime arrived unannounced in Raleigh last year, instantly polarizing the city between those who welcomed the new mode of transportation and those who saw the vehicles as a nuisance.

“I think you’ll see how they come into the market, it’s a little bit more thoughtful and measured,” said Michael Moore, the city’s transportation director. “It’s not all shock and awe.”

Designated parking zones

Gotcha scooters, like Bird and Lime, will cost $1 to “unlock” and 15 cents per minute to ride. However, riders will be incentivized to park the blue scooters in designated parking zones — Flood said riders may be charged more if they don’t park in one — instead of leaving them wherever they finish their ride.

Those zones are still being set up, he said, adding some riders will have to “change behaviors.”

Gotcha plans to work in cities and at universities where it is the exclusive scooter company, Flood said. It’s pulling back in some cities where there are multiple companies and left Nashville, Tennessee, within the last week.

After Bird and Lime arrived, the city’s staff recommended rules and a $100 per scooter fee, which the Raleigh City Council increased to $300 per scooter. It’s one of the highest per-scooter fees in the country.

The fee is high, Flood said, but added that Gotcha is committed to Raleigh and hopes the company and the city will be able to work together to make sure the scooters are affordable to residents while still being profitable.

The two California-based companies, Bird and Lime, did not apply to operate in the city, citing the city’s fees and regulations. They left at the end of July.

The city could have picked four companies to replace Bird and Lime, but only selected Gotcha. The company will be allowed 500 scooters with the potential of 1,000 — though Flood said the company’s standard fleet is normally 250 to 450. If Gotcha does deploy 1,000 scooters, it would still fall short of the nearly 1,400 scooters that were in the city at one point.

Gotcha will also have local employees who pick up the scooters for charging and maintenance instead of contracting with residents to pick them up.

Lime to remain at NC State

In an outgoing message to the city, Lime thanked its team of chargers (called juicers) and riders for being apart of the “Lime family” and regrets not being able to stay. The company will still be at N.C. State University.

“After months of conversation and attempts to find a suitable path forward with the city of Raleigh, we were unable to reach an agreement that would allow for the sustainable, well-run scooter program Raleigh residents deserve,” Lime said in a statement.

“We hope to serve Raleigh in the future so residents can enjoy our reliable, sustainable and affordable transportation options, it said.

In an email to riders, Lime said people should vote for “candidates who value alternative transportation” in the upcoming municipal election if they want Lime scooters to come back.

“Bird is so grateful to our Raleigh community for supporting shared e-scooters and embracing Bird as an environmentally friendly alternative to short car trips,” Bird said in a statement. “Unfortunately, due to burdensome regulations on e-scooter providers, it no longer makes sense for us to provide our service in the city. We thank Raleigh riders and would welcome the opportunity to provide our service again in the future under improved circumstances.”

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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