Auckland Council is planning to extend Lime's licence to operate e-scooters on city streets until the end of March.

An internal council email, obtained by the Herald, says there will be a meeting in early January to discuss and confirm the necessary approvals for the extension.

"If it is proposed to formalise the decision, announcements to elected members, Lime and media will be made at this time," said Rory Palmer, the principal transport adviser to Mayor Phil Goff, in an email to council and Auckland Transport officials.

Lime's street-trading licence will expire on January 14 - the end of a three-month trial.


The December 21 email said without an extension to its street trading licence, Lime would have to pull its scooters off the street.

Palmer said in the email that when approving the trials, it was expected Onzo and Wave would be operating in Auckland before the three-month trial ended, and allow the relative performance and technologies of the different providers to be assessed.

However, for reasons of their own, the other providers had not been able to get trials underway, Palmer said.

"In order to allow time for other providers to commence their trials, time to assess Lime's trial, design any licence conditions and to ensure an ongoing electric scooter service for Auckland, it is intended to extend Lime's licence period until the end of March 2019," he said.

The council's licensing and regulatory compliance team has delegation to make the extension decision, the email said.

Palmer has contacted Lime's Mitchell Price to inform him of the planned licence extension. The Herald has sought comment from Lime.

Palmer told the Herald today that the plan to grant the Lime e-scooter extension was proceeding as set out in the email.

Councillors and licensing staff will discuss Lime when they return from their Christmas and New Year break on January 7, a council spokeswoman said.

"A decision on the next steps will be taken that week," she said.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is looking at a speed limit for e-scooters.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is looking at a speed limit for e-scooters.

Mayor Phil Goff ordered a probe after councillor Christine Fletcher was nearly knocked off her feet by a Lime rider outside the Town Hall on October 25 and 150 ACC claims were racked up in a month.

Councillors and staff were waiting on the final version of that report, the spokeswoman said. The results of AT's Lime survey will also be digested.

She said the council is watching events in Queensland, where the Gold Coast Council took a hard line against Lime, confiscating e-scooters and forcing the company to suspend operations for failing to follow licensing rules.

Lime's trial licence in Christchurch expires at the end of February.

The council is currently asking for feedback through its website.

10km/h speed limit?

There are three possible outcomes for Lime.

The worst-case scenario would be that it had its licence pulled.

The best-case would be an extension of its trial, or a permanent licence.

But it's also possible its licence would be extended, but with conditions. For example, following the tumultuous council meeting after the Fletcher near-miss, a 10km per hour speed-limit was mooted (a Lime can hit a top-speed of 27km/h on the flat, though there have been reports of up to 40km/h reached downhill).

"I think there has to be a speed limit and we are looking at the initial idea of a speed limit of around 10km/h but we will listen to public feedback on that," Goff said.

Helmets - not legally required and currently only seen in Lime publicity shots - could also be on the agenda, the mayor said.

What happened to Onzo and Wave?

Lime launched in New Zealand in October, putting 1000 scooters into Auckland and 700 into Christchurch. It has since launched in Upper and Lower Hutt.

Local contender Onzo - which already has e-bikes in Auckland - was due to launch up to 2500 e-scooters in the city on November 6, while Australia's Wave Scooters had a November 30 NZ launch slated.

Neither could be immediately reached for comment. Auckland Council understands both are now waiting on the result of Lime's trial before committing to the city.

Uber waiting in the wings

Uber, which along with Google has been bankrolling the San Francisco-based Lime, will also be watching closely.

The company sees a move to "multi-modal" transport as the answer to inner-city congestion - from e-scooters to e-bikes and even walkers.

Uber's injection of hundreds of millions into Lime, and its purchase of e-bike operator Jump show it's serious about its multi-modal strategy, which one of the company's NZ staff says will be a major point of focus for 2019.