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As Slew Of Scooter Companies Descend On Chicago, Deals Offered For Vets, Low-Income Riders

The city is granting permits to 10 vendors to each operate 250 scooters in the city for the next four months.

Spin dockless e-scooter rentals lined up in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri.
Tony Webster/Flickr
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CHICAGO — As 10 companies roll out their e-scooters in Chicago this Saturday, the vendors will offer up discounts for some riders in an effort to get an edge on the competition.

On Tuesday, the city announced it was granting permits allowing 10 vendors to each operate 250 scooters in the city over the next four months.

Rental rates for most of the e-scooters are $1 to unlock the scooter and 15 cents per minute. But many of the companies are offering discounts for military and people enrolled in public aid programs.

Check out the full list of rental rates and competing discounts below

Bird

Normal rental: $1 to unlock the e-scooter and then it’s 15 cents per minute.

Discounts: People currently enrolled in or eligible for a state or federal assistance program can use Bird Access, which waives the $1 unlock fee. The $1 unlock fee waiver is also available to active duty and retired military personnel.

Lime

Normal rental: $1 to unlock the e-scooter and 15 cents per minute.

Discounts: People who participate in a local, state or federally run assistance program are eligible for discounted rides at all times in all areas of the pilot zone. The discounted price via Lime Access is 50 cents to unlock and then 7 cents per minute.

Bolt

Normal pricing: $1 to unlock the e-scooter and then it’s 15 cents per minute.

Discounts: Veterans and people who can demonstrate enrollment in certain assistance programs can qualify for a 50 percent discount with the Bolt Forward access program.

Lyft

Normal pricing: $1 to unlock the e-scooter and then it’s 15 cents per minute.

Discounts: Information about pricing or accessibility programs for Chicago was not available on their website and representatives from Lyft were not immediately available for comment. Lyft offers a Lyft Community Pass in cities like Los Angeles and Denver that costs $5 per month and includes unlimited, free, 30-minute rides.

VeoRide

Normal pricing: $1 to unlock the e-scooter and then it’s 15 cents per minute.

Discounts: VeoRide Access will allow Chicagoans to verify proof of their low-income status which will allow them to waive the $1 unlocking fee. VeoRide doesn’t currently have a program for veterans but company representatives say they are looking into starting one.

Wheels

Information about pricing or accessibility programs were not on their website and representatives from Wheels were not immediately available for comment.

Discounts: In Los Angeles, Wheels offers a Wheels for All program offering free rides for up to 30 minutes for people who don’t own a smartphone and are currently enrolled in or eligible for a state or federal assistance program.

Sherpa

This vendor does not have a website and appears to be a franchisee of Bird. Small business owners can sign up to Bird Platform which allows independent operators to buy Bird scooters and rebrand them, according to Tech Crunch.

Franchisees using Bird Platform are granted access to the company’s marketplace of chargers and mechanics in exchange for 20 percent of the cost of each ride.

City officials confirmed to Block Club that Sherpa is a separate business entity that uses Bird’s platform. Representatives from Bird were not immediately available for comment.

Spin

Information about pricing or accessibility programs was not on their website and representatives from Spin were not immediately available for comment.

grüv (CLEVR Mobility)

Information about pricing or accessibility programs were not on their website and representatives from grüv and CLEVR Mobility were not immediately available for comment.

JUMP (Uber)

Information about pricing or accessibility programs were not on their website and representatives from Jump and Uber were not immediately available for comment.

Starting Saturday, 2,500 e-scooters will begin operating in the 50-square mile zone between Halsted Street and the Chicago River to the east, Irving Park Road to the north, the edge of the city and Harlem Avenue to the west and the Chicago River to the south, according to the city.

During the rollout of the program, the city identified two zones on the western half of the 50-square mile pilot area where at least 25 percent of the total e-scooters in operation will be placed each morning. Both priority areas are in parts of the city with less access to Divvy bicycles.

The first priority area is on the Northwest Side and West Side, including Dunning, Portage Park, Montclare, Belmont-Cragin, and the northern portion of Austin.

The second priority area is on the Southwest Side and West Side, including Little Village, North Lawndale, West Garfield Park, and the southern portion of Austin.

E-scooters are essentially push scooters with electric motors. They allow a rider to stand upright while using a throttle and brakes on the handlebar to control speed and direction. Smaller than bicycles, they’re also not nearly as fast — but as a dockless transportation system could be more flexible than the city’s current Divvy system.

Some of the city’s rules for vendors participating in the pilot program include requiring e-scooters to have seats to allow for easier access to people with disabilities, that e-scooters be unlocked via text for those without smartphones and that e-scooters vendors allow a cash payment option for people without a bank account, debit or credit card.

For more information pilot program visit www.chicago.gov/scooters.

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