The scooters are back with a vengeance

I was a little worried yesterday when I checked out the Bird app. Not only did there appear to be far fewer scooters than during the pre-regulation days (way back in April), but all of the available Birds were concentrated downtown. There was hardly a one in any of the surrounding neighborhoods (bias disclosure: I live in South Lamar, about 3 miles south of the river). A few tweeters hypothesized that there were fewer because UT students had left for the summer.

But today, things are looking a lot better:

Screenshot_20180525-093731

LimeBike, the other major electric scooter operator, isn’t back yet. When I open their app, I see three random e-bikes available near the Independence Brewery east of I-35 and just south of 71. But no scooters. They say they’ll be back soon though.

But there’s apparently a new kid on the block: GOAT. It’s a Texas-based company that’s clearly vying for a favorite son status:

GOAT has permission to launch up to 500 scooters as part of the pilot program, but is currently incrementally deploying scooters 20 at a time. The company tells TechCrunch it’s also working with other cities in pursuing permits in multiple areas.

“In April we watched two California-based companies enter our market, ignore the balance, and exploit the policies and patience of our local city government but today we’re thankful for the due diligence the City of Austin put into place to ensure dockless mobility is a viable option to support their long-term objectives that we’ve worked to support,” GOAT CEO Michael Schramm said in a statement.

So far, however, GOAT is only available on iPhones. A spokeswoman for the company said it will be coming to the Google Play Store soon. So far, even those with iPhones aren’t reporting much activity, however.

It will be interesting to see how the scooter market evolves in the coming months. The city limit of 500 scooters per company doesn’t make sense to me. Although I doubt that it would be profitable for companies to deploy far more than that number, I think it’d be great if there were an electric scooter available on every street of the city.

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