Lime is the winner and homegrown Flamingo the loser as Auckland Council announced its latest lineup of e-scooter licensees, which will take to the pavement from September 4.
The US-based Lime got a six-month licence to operate 830 e-scooters from previous operator Jump by Uber.
Singapore-based incumbents Beam (730 e-scooters) and Neuron (930) each got a 12-month licence.
Overall, the total allocation of e-scooters has been chopped from 3200 to 2490.
Lime got temporarily kicked off Auckland streets in early 2019 after a braking issue that caused dozens of injuries, and lost its licence later that year despite instituting new procedures including more regular hands-on checks of its hardware and real-time performance monitoring.
"Last round Lime wasn't successful, but they have gone away and put a lot of work into preparing a stronger application that meets our criteria. On that basis we are inviting them back to operate in Auckland for six months during which time their performance will be closely monitored," Auckland Council director of regulatory services Craig Hobbs said.
Lime hasn't 100 per cent fulfilled its ambition.
Earlier, the company's government affairs manager, Lauren Mentjox, said it was angling to have both Lime and Jump-branded e-scooters on Auckland streets, following a US$170 million deal early this year that saw Lime by Jump from Uber (under its complicated terms, Uber - which is already a major investor in Jump - will get the option to turn around and buy Lime outright in a couple of years).
But for the new licensing period, it only applied to operate Jump's e-scooters and e-bikes.
Users will be able to book the Jump e-scooters on Auckland streets from September 4 using either Lime or Jump's app - as is now the case in the capital.
No immediate reason was given for Flamingo - founded by 20-something Wellington entrepreneurs Jacksen Love and Nick Hyland. The council earlier disputed a report it had asked Flamingo to upgrade to larger e-scooters, which are more stable and have other safety features; regardless an upgrade of its fleet had begun, although smaller Flamingos were still in evidence.
But Hobbs said the council had continued to raise the bar for safety and management features. For example, licensees for the new period had to have better plans for dealing with tipped-over scooters.
The council also assessed initiatives from applicants such as those to discourage drink-riding, Hobbs said, like stickers on scooters, messaging and safety tutorials and drunk tests in apps.
No Covid-specific safety features were announced by the council.
The council also announced three bike-share operators today, which will collectively offer 950 bikes
• Beam, with a 12-month licence for 500 e-bikes
• Lime, which will take over Uber's Jump fleet of 400 e-bikes on a six-month notice; and;
• Locally owned NextBike, with a six-month licence for 50 dockless regular bikes.
Flamingo's Jacksen and Love told the Herald, "We are of course disappointed to learn of the Auckland Council's decision [but] we will continue to work closely with the council to acquire feedback and build on these learnings to ensure our service meets the necessary requirements in the next round of applications. We welcome competition and remain confident that Kiwis love the Flamingo e-scooter offering.
"We want to say a huge thank you to the more than 50,000 riders who have been
part of the Flamingo journey in Auckland to date.
"As a born and bred Kiwi company, we uphold our commitment to bringing the
future of urban micro-mobility to New Zealand."
Flamingo continues to operate in Wellington and Christchurch.
The council's Hobbs told the Herald, "There are no guarantees through the application process that any operator will be awarded a licence.
"We assess each application on its merits and licences are awarded based on the strength of each application as a whole.
"This time round, there were stronger applications than Flamingo's.
"As with all operators Flamingo is welcome to submit an application again for the next licence period."