Nowadays, when competition between ride-offering and sharing services is cutthroat to the extreme, it can be difficult for new companies to establish themselves and grow a customer base with so many pioneering giants in the market. To this fray has entered the electric-scooter sharing startups. One of them, Bird, started operation in 2017, and has since expanded operations from its Santa Monica headquarters to nationwide. As of this year Bird has reached a company valuation of around $2 billion. This is now enough for the startup to begin extending its reach overseas. Its first attempt at this: over in Europe.
Tech Crunch has it that Bird has officially launched its pilot program to introduce the e-scooter sharing service in Paris, a large and populous city with over 2 million residents. Their purpose is to determine how well their ride-sharing system can operate in such a metropolitan area. In addition, Bird has made inquiries about doing the same in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, with e-scooter docks to be installed at Tel Aviv University and adjoining neighborhood areas. The company is fully confident that at its current standing they can make a start at attracting an international following of users.
Patrick Studener, Bird’s Head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa notes that they have had great ease in arranging for the capital of France to allow their pilot program for sharing e-scooters. “Paris is very forward-thinking on solving congestion issues and is one of the cities that’s dealing with the most congestion and pollution,” he said. While not an official partnership between the startup and the Paris city government, officials have been made aware that at least 100 Bird electronic scooters have set up shop for customers. Renting a Bird scooter costs €1 with a per-minute charge of €0.15.
In the meantime, Tel Aviv’s proposed pricing for residents to unlock and ride a Bird scooter 5 Shekels and 50 Agorot per minute, respectively. Studener remarks that their company takes care to open discussions with government officials at the national and city levels to find locations to bring their Bird e-scooters to. Thus far, they have engaged with government officials from cities that are in concert with Bird’s own business commitment to cut down on car ownership by offering electric scooter-sharing as an alternative mode of personal transportation.
This is a marked contrast from their experience with Santa Monica, which has taken steps to clamp new regulations on Bird and similar e-scooter startups operating there. In fact many US cities are wary of e-scooter rental operations due to their users not wearing helmets and riding on sidewalks among pedestrian crowds.
Image courtesy of The Atlantic