- Electric scooter-share company Bird has announced a program, One Bird, that will provide discounts for customers who have low incomes.
- The program waives the $1-per-ride base fee for customers who are enrolled in or eligible for state or federal assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP and utility bill relief. These customers will still pay the standard 15 cents per minute ride fee.
- One Bird is now available in all cities where Bird operates.
Mobility for underserved communities is a growing concern for city officials and a number of transportation companies. Many residents in low-income areas do not have the same access to mobility solutions as residents in high-income neighborhoods. That's a problem because low-income citizens have lower rates of car ownership than their middle- and high-income neighbors, so they rely more heavily on public transit and other forms of transportation.
For those who do have transportation access, cost can be a significant deterrent. Bird's new discount lessens the cost barrier and could boost ridership among low-income customers. Earlier this year, competitor Lime announced a similar program, Lime Access, that also eliminates the need for customers to own a cell phone or credit card, which is also a major deterrent for lower income populations.
Electric scooters aren't typically viewed as a long-haul transportation solution, but rather a first-mile, last-mile option. Bird is specifically marketing the new subsidies as a lower cost way for people to commute to and from work.
Scooter-share operators have had a rocky relationship with a number of cities because of compliance with city ordinances and potential clutter issues with dockless devices. Cities including Denver and Miami issued cease-and-desist orders to companies that released the scooters on public streets, while others are trying to devise regulatory measures to govern the devices and their operation. Operators' increased focus on providing options to increase transportation equity could be a way to smooth some strained relationships with municipalities.
"Everyone should have access to transportation that is accessible, affordable, and environmentally-friendly," Travis VanderZanden, founder and CEO of Bird, said in a statement. "We warmly welcome all new riders, and encourage our current eligible riders to enroll in the program, so together we can create a community with fewer cars, less traffic and reduced carbon emissions."