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Shared e-scooter fleet in Kelowna down 70% as Bird flies coop

Only 300 scooters are left on Kelowna streets, down from the nearly 1,000 present in early June
Bird Canada has ceased its Kelowna operations. (Contributed)

The City of Kelowna has lost another shared e-scooter service provider after the implementation of new restrictions on the program.

Bird Canada has suspended its operations in Kelowna, citing restrictions city council endorsed at its June 14 and 28 meeting as the reason.

“After spending considerable time and resources to ensure compliance with the latest local regulations, it became clear that the program was neither operationally tenable nor economically viable,” Bird said in an emailed statement to the Capital News.

Bird lasted just a little more than two months in Kelowna, entering the city’s shared e-scooter scene as the fourth operator in late May.

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The city’s new mobility specialist Matt Worona said that around 300 scooters remain in the city after the latest round of restrictions, a significant cut from early June when almost 1,000 were roaming the city daily. Only two of the four approved operators are still running in the city, Lime and Roll, each capped at a 150-scooter fleet. Zip pulled out of the shared-mobility program in June, instead opting to offer daily rentals of its fleet.

Initially, city staff anticipated only one company would be able to meet the July 1, deadline they’d set out for operators to comply with the new rules.

“We knew a smaller field of companies was likely,” he said.

With fewer scooters on the streets, Worona said, there have been fewer complaints — just as the city hoped when introducing new restrictions. As with any mode of transportation, however, it won’t be without its flaws.

“We’re not going to see perfect behaviour out of all these riders. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a travel mode that has that,” he said.

Despite the decrease in availability, Worona says ridership levels remain strong. Worona said one company reported that each of its scooters is used for 12 trips daily on average.

“We’ve seen really, really high utilization as we’ve moved the fleet down,” Worona said. “It speaks to the demand for this service.”

Those fleets still have the chance to grow to meet demand, but Worona said companies first need to show their riders are well-behaved and they are adhering to the city’s restrictions.

Despite having to pull out of the program, Bird said it has shared its recommendations on the program with the City of Kelowna and would welcome the opportunity to reapply if it comes up.

“As a Canadian-owned and operated micro-mobility company, we believe there is a future for shared e-scooters in Kelowna.”


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