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Lime left out of Wellington e-scooter trial

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 20 March 2019, 6:03p.m.
Wellington will trial two different e-scooter brands. (Photo / 123RF)

Wellington City Council is defending the choice to leave Lime out of an e-scooter trial. 

Only two brands will be taking part in the six month trial. "Jump by Uber" will be joined by  locally-owned start-up Flamingo, backed by local entrepreneurs Nick Hyland and Jackson Love.

The trial begins in mid-June, and Lime, which is part-owned by Uber,is fuming at being missed out.

"We are shocked and disappointed not to have been chosen as one of the operators to take part in Wellington's electric scooter trial," Lime NZ public affairs manager Lauren Mentjox told the Herald.

"Lime has been working closely with the Council for more than six months to bring our premium service to the city.

"Since we launched in the Hutt Valley, we have seen more than 170,000 trips with more than 40,000 riders, and more than two million rides in New Zealand.

"As the only operator of record, we have 20 staff and hundreds of people in our juicer community who are ready to go. This is a loss for the entire region."

Jump by Uber e-scooters. Photo / 123rf

Jump by Uber e-scooters. Photo / 123rf

However, councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman told Larry Williams that they simply felt two was an appropriate amount. 

"We cannot have Wellington festooned with dozens of competing scooter operators. If someone wants to hire a scooter, they want of their brand around and not to have pick and choose between three and four brands." 

However, nothing is out of question once the trial is over. 

"The way can be opened for others later," Calvi-Freeman says.

One reason for the trial is because people remain split over the role of the scooters in the public. 

He says they wanted to wait and see how the trials unfolded in Auckland, Christchurch and Lower Hutt. 

Lime scooters returned to Auckland streets on March 7 after a week's suspension following a (now-resolved) bug that saw 31 injured by braking issues. Council COO Dean Kimpton said he wanted to hear about any further issues from Lime itself - and within 48 hours - rather than through the media.

Calvi-Freeman says that the locking up was a "spectacular failure", but he understands that has been resolved.

The e-scooters will be allowed to operate on footpaths, despite initial considerations to ban them. Calvi-Freeman says that they would have banned them from footpaths and malls, but then that would force people to be on the road, which may not be safer. 

"One is through a by-law, which is quite a long process. And the other is by asking the scooter providers to tell their client snot to ride them on the footpaths." 

In the Wellington trial, Flamingo will charge $1 then 30c minute - the same as recent Auckland arrival Wave, and Lime, which is part of trials in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Lower Hutt.

Jump by Uber has yet to reveal its pricing.

Uber spokeswoman Nicky Preston says the around 400 Jump scooters will be put on Wellington streets.

"We do not have any immediate plans to launch in other New Zealand cities," she says.

"We will continue discussions with city officials and look for new ways to support Kiwis and sustainable transport options for our cities."

One of Flamingo's e-scooters. Photo / Supplied.

One of Flamingo's e-scooters. Photo / Supplied.

A rep for Flamingo said unlike Wave (which licenses technology and an app from US e-scooter giant Bird), the Wellington startup is creating its own app for a fleet of Segway Ninebot scooters (the Chinese-made Ninebot being the dominant brand across the e-scooter industry. It's also used by Lime and Bird).

Flamingo also has a trial licence for 400 e-scooters.

The startup plans to expand to other centres once it's established in the capital.

For its part, Uber plans to develop self-driving e-scooters and e-bikes, that will be able to return to popular pickup points on autopilot after being left at a far-flung location or recharging point.


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