Bolt Mobility officially ceased its e-scooter operation in Richmond on Monday after informing the city that it would not renew permits with the city in June.
Dironna Moore Clarke, director of the city’s Office of Equitable Transit and Mobility, confirmed that Bolt’s dockless scooters are no longer be available, leaving Bird and Lime as the only two scooter services left in the city.
Richmond Bizsense reported first that Bolt’s permit expired Monday.
Clarke said Bolt did not tell city officials why it chose to not renew its permit, but noted that the two remaining companies are still able to deploy a total of 1,000 dockless scooters throughout the city. Representatives for Bolt did not respond to requests for comment Monday afternoon.
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Clarke in an interview with The Times Dispatch noted national media reports about the Miami-based company ceasing operations in communities in Vermont, Oregon and California.
Bolt did not immediately respond to an interview request on Monday.
Like other dockless mobility companies, Bolt operates a smartphone app that riders can download, then use to locate the scooters and pay to ride them.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin in a statement said: “There is no criminal liability or culpability for any individual office who appropriately followed an order in the chain of command that was lawful but, with hindsight, in error.”
To operate in the city, companies have to pay $1,500 to apply for a permit, as well as an annual fee based on the number of scooters or bikes they wish to deploy. For up to 100 scooters, the fee is $20,000; for 101 to 200 scooters, it’s $30,000; for 201 to 500 scooters, it’s $45,000.
The scooters became a popular alternative to ride-hailing apps and taxis several years ago. Bird initially deployed several scooters in Richmond without explicit permission from the local government, prompting the city to impound them as officials worked to craft regulations and a permitting process.
Bolt became the first sanctioned company in Richmond in 2019 as part of a pilot program that year.
Clarke said the city is currently looking into revising its regulations to allow people to use the scooters beyond the 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. operating hours. She said officials have also been working with service providers to make sure that scooters are more widely available south of the James River.
“The program is still viable and good,” she said. “We’re learning a lot, about the permitting and what really yields flexibility.”
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