At their 28 February meeting, Christchurch City Councillors voted in favour of staff recommendations to:
- issue a 12 month permit for Lime Technology (Lime’s initial trial permit was due to expire on the day of this meeting)
- increase the cap on Lime e-scooters from 700 to 1,000
- charge an annual rental fee of $86.25 per e-scooter – reflecting the public space occupied
Councillors also approved a citywide cap of 1,600 e-scooters, and delegated to staff the authority to amend the citywide cap, and also the cap that may be applied to an individual permit.
Papanui Councillor Mike Davidson proposed a lower cap for Lime of half the citywide cap. He argued that competition could be stifled by allowing first-mover Lime too much market share, but this amendment was not carried.
I understand that Council staff arrived at the 1,600 figure as a citywide cap based on international experience for a city of our size. (Of course, Council can only manage numbers for fleets that are covered by trading permits – as private citizens we are free to operate as many of our own e-scooters as we wish.)
Prior to the Council discussion and vote, three Lime staff spoke to the meeting – Hamish Ellis (Lime Christchurch Operations Manager), Lauren Mentjox (Lime Community Affairs Manager), and Matthew McNeill (Lime City Launcher).
Their presentation and Q&A with Councillors can be found about 29 minutes into this video: https://youtu.be/TcCWJCNsRzI?t=1770
Mr Ellis stated that he manages a team of:
- 30 shift workers
- 50 juicers
He spoke of Lime becoming aware of a ‘small number’ of incidents of excessive brake force, resulting in scooters ‘stopping unexpectedly’. The local team has taken every potentially affected scooter off the street for testing & information gathering.
Lime are now confident that their scooters are now safe and they have a fix, which has been detailed in letters and reports sent to Council by Lime. It was also mentioned in this presentation that there have been almost 600,000 trips on Christchurch Lime e-scooters since launch.
Some points from the Q&A that followed:
- Lime have accepted the rental fee that Council is proposing, and ‘wouldn’t say it affects the longevity of Lime’s business’ (eg Lime can afford to pay, and is prepared to pay, the fee Council staff have proposed).
- A future feature could be location-based speed caps (for example, a lower maximum speed for scooters in a location such as the central city).
- The Q&A also touched on other areas including aspects of safety and anti-social behaviour.
The subsequent Council discussion and vote on staff recommendations can be found at item 12 of the agenda: http://christchurch.infocouncil.biz/Open/2019/02/CNCL_20190228_AGN_3365_AT_WEB.htm
Video of this section can be found at http://councillive.ccc.govt.nz/video/8253
Today’s decisions by Council have been made in a rapidly-changing environment. At the time of writing, Auckland and Dunedin Lime scooters are suspended from operation due to safety concerns, but possibly not for much longer.
Question for readers
What is your experience of Lime e-scooters? What do you think of today’s Council decisions?