City of Tempe stands by regulations that pushed Lime to leave

Lime said that they disagree with the language used in the liability requirements

The city of Tempe is standing by the fee structure and regulations it imposes on electric scooter companies even as two such companies have threatened to pull out of the city. 

Lime decided to pull its scooters from Tempe last week after not meeting a deadline to apply for an operating license the city drafted. Razor, another dockless scooter operator, submitted its application and paid an initial fee but said the license agreement could prevent it from working with the city beyond the next one to two months. 

Both companies cited a daily $1.06 per vehicle operating fee and a liability requirement that called scooters "inherently hazardous" as prohibitive.

But Vice Mayor Lauren Kuby said that she stands by the new regulations, though the city is open to reassessing them if they if they prove to not work.

Kuby said the city has "incurred substantial costs” that are associated with e-scooters.

“We’ve had costs associated with that, that have come out of our general funds, you know, increased police enforcement,” she said. “(There have been) 119 scooter related calls that our fire-medical rescue responded to from June to December.” 

She said the fees will go toward the streets, sidewalks and safety education.

The city approved licensing guidelines for any "shared active transportation vehicle" on Jan. 10.

The terms and conditions of the licensing guidelines outline rules in regards to safety, parking and staging, operations, data sharing, fees and the application. 

The licensing guidelines says that the operator will pay a $7,888 annual fee, $100 for a vehicle relocation fee and a fee of $1.06 per vehicle per day. 

A Lime spokesperson said in a statement via email that the company wants to serve the Tempe community and strongly supports robust insurance coverage that is standard in all agreements with cities.

However, the company says that they do not agree with the current Tempe liability requirements and the way in which they are worded. 

“The Tempe liability requirements, as currently worded, would require Lime and other operators to agree that shared vehicles are ‘inherently hazardous,’ which we have not seen in the 100-plus markets around the country where we operate,” the spokesperson said. 

Tempe Councilman Randy Keating said he was surprised Lime decided to leave because the company was involved in the process leading up to the licensing agreement and that the city conducted multiple meetings with the companies.

“There was never any indication that they were unhappy with their proposed regulations and fee structures all the way up until about a week before the vote,” Keating said. “And at that time, you know, the the ship had sailed.”

He said by the time Lime had raised some concerns, it was too late. 

“I mean, we, we couldn't change the fee structure at that point,” he said. “We’d already had the public meetings and the stakeholder meetings, and we have to post the fees 60 days before voting on them.”

Mayor Mark Mitchell said he was disappointed that Lime decided to leave the city without trying to participate in the new regulations.

"It’s kind of interesting that without giving a shot at this, they up and left even though they were a part of the process and they originally agreed to everything,” he said. 

Mitchell also said that he was confused by Lime's decision since they had just as much input as other contributors.

Lime said in their statement that they appreciate working closely with the city, but that operators were unable to directly discuss the liability language used in the regulations with the city.

"We are looking forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the city, and remain hopeful we can reach a resolution," they said.

Keating said he is disappointed that the company is leaving because the city supports sustainable transit solutions like scooters. 

“You know, I was certainly disappointed that Lime has decided to leave,” he said. “I’m glad that other companies are staying, I do think that there is a market and a need to be served here. I wish they wouldn’t leave but at the end of the day they’re a business and they have to make a business decision and I respect their decision, it just – I’m not thrilled by it.” 

Keating said that the city would love to have Lime back. 

“There is a plan to reassess down the road, and at that time, I imagine Lime will be a part of that process,” he said.


Reach the reporter at bstoshne@asu.edu and follow @itsbrennaaaa on Twitter. 

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