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Detroit partners with mobility company to better distribute scooters citywide

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City will charge different amounts depending on where scooters park

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Since scooter companies Lime, Bird, and Spin rolled out their fleets to cities around the country, minor adjustments have been required. Some, like Detroit, have capped the number or required that a certain amount must be deployed in each part of the city.

Another common complaint is that when when a ride is finished, users leave the scooter wherever they like—in front of entrances to businesses, in the middle of the sidewalk, in bike lanes.

A new partnership between the city of Detroit, Passport, and Lime hopes to alleviate some of the issues resulting from scooter integration in Detroit. By analyzing usage patterns during a six-month pilot phase, the mobility software company will help institute dynamic pricing so that scooters are more efficiently distributed throughout the city.

Locally, Passport helped develop both the Park Detroit and QLine apps.

During the pilot phase, Lime has agreed to share user data with Passport, which it will then analyze to determine how much the city should charge for companies to deploy scooters in various parts of the city. The ultimate goal is to encourage scooters to be present in areas where they’re most needed.

“The idea we’re super-focused on is equitable distribution of scooters around neighborhoods in Detroit,” says Passport CRO Khristian Gutierrez.

That could mean charging a higher price for companies—not the end users—to “park” scooters in high-traffic places like downtown or Midtown, or offer free parking near transit nodes like bus stops. Cities already charge companies a fee per scooter—this pilot would shift to a more dynamic pricing model.

Scooter companies could also use the data to optimize how many they should have in a given city or area.

This partnership began, according to Mark de la Vergne, chief of mobility innovation with the city of Detroit, because demand for scooters was high in the neighborhoods after instituting a city-wide scooter deployment policy. “While this is a great start, there is a need to continue to increase access to this mode outside of downtown,” he said by email.

Ultimately, the partners hope this initiative results in a data-based regulatory model that could be scaled nationally. The cities of Charlotte and Omaha are also participating in the pilot with Passport.

“Curbs are public space,” Gutierrez says. “Setting this framework is an important step to give cities control so that it’s more fair and in the spirit of private-public partnership.”