- Dockless bike and scooter-share company Lime expanded discounts for low-income riders to its entire fleet nationwide, the company announced this week.
- Lime Access will offer 50% off its dockless electric bikes and scooters, and 95% off its dockless pedal bikes to anyone eligible for state or federal assistance programs. Lime Access riders have the option to unlock a vehicle without a smartphone by purchasing credit with cash through PayNearMe.
- "St. Louis has welcomed the new innovative mobility service offered by Lime," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a statement released by Lime. "By now making it possible for community members to pay with cash and unlock a ride without a Smartphone, Lime is giving critical affordable access to those far too often underserved."
Lime hinted its access program, which first began in Los Angeles and Seattle, offers far greater discounts than competitors' programs. In its blog post, Lime said that someone who takes a 30-minute scooter ride will pay just $2.60 on average when factoring in the 50-cent fee to unlock and 7-cents-a-minute fee to ride. This is compared to other companies' programs — such as Bird's "One Bird" program, launched last month — which offers $1 off an average ride cost of $5.50, saving riders only 18%.
It is certainly ambitious on the company's part to offer such big price reductions, but admirable as city leaders and companies wrestle with how they can use their talents to help vulnderable communities. In an interview with Smart Cities Dive, Micah Kotch, managing director of Brooklyn, NY-based startup accelerator URBAN-X, said more and more technology companies are waking up to the need for their products to have a "real upside for citizens and for municipalities."
The partnership with PayNearMe is also significant as it should help unbanked city residents access what could be seen as a luxury piece of new technology. There has traditionally been mistrust between cities and some sections of their community as some worry about being pushed out by new innovations and developments.
But this program could help with that and has echoes of a New York City proposal to add payment chips to its municipal ID cards, which adds a new financial option for unbanked residents. "While there’s certainly more work to be done, we believe that easier access to our Lime-E and Lime-S products will help to lower transportation barriers and bring mobility independence to more community members across the US," the company wrote in its blog post.