Lime, one of the largest electric scooter companies in the nation, is pulling out of Atlanta.
In a message posted to the San Francisco-based company’s website Jan. 9, co-founder and CEO Brad Bao said it is removing its e-scooters from Atlanta and 11 other markets in the world.
“Part of realizing our vision to transform urban mobility is achieving financial independence; that is why we have shifted our primary focus to profitability,” he said. “While the vast majority of our 120+ markets have adopted micromobility transportation solutions quickly and are profitable, there are select communities throughout the world where micromobility has evolved more slowly. For this reason, we have made the difficult decision to close 12 markets across the globe at this time.”
In an emailed statement in response to follow-up questions specifically about Lime’s departure from Atlanta, a company spokesman said, “As part of our path to profitability, Lime has made the difficult decision to exit Atlanta and focus our resources on markets that allow us to meet our ambitious goals for 2020.
“We’re grateful to our team members, riders, Juicers and communities who supported us throughout this journey. We appreciate the partnership we’ve enjoyed with Atlanta and remain hopeful we can reintroduce Lime back into the community when the time is right.”
Lime’s departure from Atlanta comes after two other companies – Gotcha and Lyft – left Atlanta last year.
At an Oct. 30 Atlanta City Council transportation committee meeting, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner James A. Jackson Jr. reportedly said his department impounded 2,897 scooters between July 1 and Sept. 30 because they were improperly parked or possibly violated other regulations. But it failed to collect the fees for that period.
The fees were estimated at over $200,000, but an industry source close to the situation said the amount the city failed to collect was actually over $500,000. According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, Lime owes the city at least $69,944 in impound fees, including a $10,375 storage fee.
Though a Lime spokesperson would not comment on the fees, they are likely one of the reasons the company pulled out of Atlanta. Lime is expected to collect all of its e-scooters in Atlanta (1,600 total) by Jan. 23.
According to the city’s website, after Lime leaves Atlanta, only five e-scooter companies totaling 6,200 permitted devices will remain. Lime’s departure comes at a time when further regulation of e-scooters could be approved by the city in the near future.
In August the council voted to approve legislation to repeal the department of city planning’s authority to issue permits for e-scooters. That move came after Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms July 24 issued an executive order to temporarily stop the city from issuing e-scooter permits.
The council’s vote came after three individuals died since May while riding e-scooters in the city, and Bottoms Aug. 8 issued a separate executive order to ban scooter use between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., since the three deaths occurred after dark.
Nima Daivari served as Lime’s community affairs manager for Georgia before being one of its employees laid off when the company pulled out of Atlanta. He said he didn’t know exactly why Lime left the city.
“But my personal feeling is the market was not properly managed operationally (by Lime),” Daivari said. “I don’t think it’s competitive in the current landscape with the hardware, pricing, availability, all that.”
Despite Lime’s departure from Atlanta, he said he believes the future is bright for e-scooters in the city.
“I’m still very optimistic for micromobility,” Daivari said. “I think the Atlanta Department of Transportation, led by Commissioner Josh Rowan, Cary Bearn and Jacob Tzegaegbe, will do some really great things. I think Mayor Bottoms’ action plan for safer streets will triple the infrastructure. We’re poised for a lot of great things come starting this spring.”