Who Has the Cheapest Scooter?
Bird, Lime and Spin versus MCTS and Bublr Bikes. Which is the best deal?
There are scooters on virtually every downtown street corner, but how do you decide which one to ride?
Three scooter companies, Bird, Lime and Spin, now offer electric scooters for rent in Milwaukee as part of a city-wide pilot program. The scooters, unlockable with smartphone apps from each of the companies, charge by the minute. But how much that per minute charge is and whether the sales tax is added at the end or embedded in the price can drastically alter what you will pay.
We calculated all of the rides to be 19 minutes in length based on a 2018 study of how scooters were used in Portland, Oregon.
Bird – $1 to unlock the scooter plus 29 cents per minute plus sales tax. $5 deposit required for first ride, discounts for bigger deposits. Cost of a 19-minute ride: $6.87
Bublr Bikes – $.15 per minute, discounted membership rates available. Cost of a 19-minute ride: $2.85
Lime – $1 to unlock the scooter plus 25 cents per minute (sales tax embedded). Cost of a 19-minute ride: $4.75
MCTS – $2 per ride with app or MCard, monthly and weekly discount available. Cost of a 19-minute ride: $2
Spin – $1 to unlock the scooter, plus 25 cents per minute plus sales tax. $10 deposit required for first ride. Cost of a 19-minute ride: $5.01
Lime has the cheapest fare for scooters based on the company’s decision to embed the sales tax into the cost. It also has the cheapest start-up cost with no deposit required to start riding. Spin comes in second, but requires a $10 deposit (which you get back to spend on rides). Both of the companies’ scooters offer speedometers to see if you can get the scooter to cross over the 15 miles per hour state scooter speed limit (spoiler: you can easily do so going downhill).
Bird offers the most expensive per-minute price, requires a $5 deposit and appends the tax on the end, but its scooters performed the best during my test.
Both Bublr Bikes and MCTS are cheaper to utilize than the scooters, with the former requiring you to use the docks and the latter requiring you to ride on a schedule. The Hop, the city’s streetcar system, is free for the foreseeable future, but only serves Downtown and a handful of adjacent neighborhoods.
All of the options are cheaper than using ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft; they’re also likely cheaper than driving when the cost of parking, maintenance and vehicle ownership are factored in.
Ford-owned Spin and last year’s entrant Bird have joined Lime in offering dockless electric scooters in Milwaukee. Each of the companies is allowed to place up to 350 scooters on city streets.
Spin began deploying its scooters yesterday, with Bird flying into the city on Wednesday morning. When the companies each have their full, regulated fleets deployed there could be as many as 1,050 rentable scooters in Milwaukee, doubling the total available one week ago.
The fleet size, staffing plan and insurance requirements are regulated by a city-approved pilot program. An additional city ordinance was passed in July to ban sidewalk riding, a key issue that caused city administration officials to “pause” expanding the program in early August after getting more than 100 citizen complaints.
The three companies are able to place up to 250 dockless scooters each in an area east of Interstate 43 running from W. Oklahoma Ave. north to the city limits near W. Capitol Dr. that includes Downtown, the East Side, Brewers Hill, Bronzeville, Harambee, Bay View and a special cutout west to N. 22nd St. for Marquette University.
The companies are able to place 100 additional scooters, bringing each company’s total fleet size to 350, in two additional zones (50 scooters per zone) which encompass the rest of the city and are roughly divided by Interstate 94. The pilot program documentation outlines a scenario whereby scooter fleets would be allowed to increase to 1,000 if certain performance metrics outlined in the pilot study, including utilization, are met.
According to data provided to the city by Lime, over 53,000 trips were taken on scooters between the company’s launch on July 23rd and August 9th.
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- City Hall: Scooters Could Return to Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 30th, 2020
- Transportation: Lime Unveils ‘Group Ride’ Scooters - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 6th, 2019
- Transportation: Lime Debuts New Scooter - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 28th, 2019
- Transportation: Who Has the Cheapest Scooter? - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 14th, 2019
- Transportation: City Will Double Number of Permitted Scooters, Ends “Pause” - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 10th, 2019
- Transportation: City Blocking New Scooters, 100+ Complaints About Bad Riders - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 2nd, 2019
- Transportation: The Scooters Are Here! - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 23rd, 2019
- Transportation: Three Scooter Companies Apply to Operate in Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 19th, 2019
- Transportation: Scooters Legalized But Not on Sidewalks - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 9th, 2019
- Transportation: Evers Signs Bill Legalizing Scooters - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 8th, 2019
Read more about Bird vs Milwaukee Controversy here