Bird adds $2 charge to Raleigh rentals after city enforces $300 scooter fee

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Be ready to spend more to ride a scooter in Raleigh.

One scooter rental company is blaming a new rule passed by Raleigh City Council for a $2 increase to ride Bird scooters in Raleigh.

On Monday, the company announced it was adding a $2 transportation fee to all rentals in Raleigh starting Jan. 7.
Bird rentals will now cost riders $3 to unlock the scooter and then $0.15 per minute.

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The scooter company said the transportation fee is a response to Raleigh City Council increasing the per scooter fee.

Now, rental companies must pay $300 for every scooter they have in the city. Raleigh City Council initially posed a $150 per scooter fee but decided to go even higher. City council members have said the $300 fee is to offset the cost of enforcing laws surrounding scooters, so the police department isn't on the hook for those costs.

"When Raleigh City Council passed its regulations, Bird had two options: abandon the community we've had the honor to serve and focus on more business-friendly cities, or stay and fight for riders like you who want transportation alternatives. To us, the decision was an easy one. We decided to stay and work to ensure Raleigh residents don't have to pay a premium for environmentally friendly transportation - but we need your help."

Raleigh City Councilmember Stef Mendell told ABC11 that Bird is "clearly taking advantage of its customers."

She explained her position in a statement:

"Bird is taking scooter users for a ride. Bird is protesting the $300 per scooter per year fee that the City of Raleigh recently imposed to cover administrative and enforcement costs related to scooter operations. The scooter companies suggest that the fee should be $100 per scooter per year. We are charging $300 per scooter per year, an "incremental" cost of $200 per scooter. A scooter company needs to take in an extra $.55 per day per scooter to recoup the incremental cost ( $.55 x 365 days = $200). By charging an extra $2 per ride, not per day, Bird is clearly taking advantage of its customers."

Bird created a website to make it easy to email Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane to voice complaints.

"We added the $300 to help with enforcement to help pay for making sure people aren't riding on the sidewalks, people are being safe," McFarlane said. "That's the policy. I don't think we have any intent on changing that. But it certainly does not warrant that kind of rate increase from Bird."

The company is asking residents to contact their representatives on the city council to get rid of what they're calling an "unreasonable tax."

Sam Reed, Director of Government Partnerships at Bird, released the following statement on the situation:

"Raleigh City Council, unfortunately, does not agree that environmentally friendly transportation should be available to all. The council passed excessive and unnecessary fees on environmentally-friendly shared e-scooters that will limit access to this affordable transportation option to those who need it most. The $2 per ride transportation tax riders must now pay to ride Bird is the direct result of Raleigh City Council forcing e-scooter providers to pay extraneous fees. Raleigh residents have enthusiastically supported our service. They want - and need - more access to our affordable transportation solution, not less. Furthermore, the popularity of Bird has led to a budding community of chargers and mechanics who have come to rely on the supplemental income they earn by supporting our operations in Raleigh. We remain committed to those riders, chargers and mechanics who are greatly benefiting from our presence and helping eliminate our addiction to cars. We are doing everything we can to ensure we can continue to serve them. Our hope is that Raleigh City Council will eliminate its high fees and its arbitrary cap on sustainable transportation offerings so that all residents, not just those who can afford the tax, can once again enjoy Bird as a truly affordable option in their community."

Lime sent this statement to ABC11:
"Lime has always maintained that these fees make sustainable transportation less affordable and accessible and are ultimately borne by riders."

Raleigh mayor McFarlane fired back at Bird's statement.

"First of all let me address their statement, which is ludicrous to say that we don't believe in environmentally-sustainable transportation because clearly if you look at our policies if you look at all the things we've done in the past few years it proves that we have. Second issue I have is with them referring to this as a tax. We are in no way responsible for this. This is an additional fee levied by Bird that they say they have to have to recoup the $300 per scooter."

Riders had mixed reaction about the news.

"It's too expensive to use it when I can just grab an Uber or something like that," David Ward, a scooter user said. "It'd be just as cheap if not cheaper."

Kristin Wimmer, who also has used Bird, likes having the option.

"I think it gives access to transportation for people who can't afford it," Wimmer said. "It's a nice, fast way to go around the city. I think spending a little bit more so everyone can have that is worth it."
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