The electric scooters that have seemingly appeared out of nowhere on sidewalks of downtown Mobile have no right to be there, a spokesman for the city of Mobile confirmed in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
Electric scooters under the brand name EZRide have been seen in various locations around the downtown area. However, in an emailed statement to members of the media Wednesday afternoon, city spokesman Jason Johnson wrote the city had no prior knowledge of the company’s plans and they have not gone through the proper channels.
“The company does not have a franchise agreement to have its scooters in the city’s rights of way, and the Mobile Police Department will be impounding them,” he wrote.
Lagniappe contacted EZRide through the company’s website and heard back from a representative who refused to provide a name. The representative said he was born and raised in Mobile and saw the need for the scooter company after Bolt left the market. He said he bought the scooters, put a logo on them and developed the application in order to provide the service.
The representative said he reached out to the city about the scooters and even asked questions. He said he was never told he needed a franchise agreement to operate.
In a phone interview with Lagniappe, Johnson said he was unsure how much it would cost to get the scooters out of the impound and confirmed they had not been pulled off rights-of-way yet. In a follow up text exchange, Johnson said the impound pricing depends upon how long vehicles are stored, among other things.
In the emailed statement, Johnson said the city is working with another company to finalize a franchise agreement to bring scooters to downtown.
Bolt scooters left the city after announcing in August it would have to “significantly” scale back operations.
The city’s history with these so-called micro-transportation companies is fraught.
LimeBike was the first of these companies to make Mobile a market. LimeBike provided traditional bicycles to rights-of-way for would-be travelers to use. LimeBike left the city in 2019 and Gotcha filled the void with the electric scooters.
Bolt purchased Gotcha in 2021 and added vespa-type scooters to its fleet of stand-up scooters. Those scooters have now been removed.
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