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Pump The Brakes: City Orders Lime To Remove 1,000 Scooters From Downtown Austin

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

Austin is ordering dockless scooter operator Lime to pull 1,000 scooters from its fleet after the city alleges Lime violated its agreement with the city.

A memo from the Austin Transportation Department says it ordered Lime to cut its 5,000-scooter fleet by a fifth on Tuesday. ATD Director Rob Spillar said Lime violated the terms of the city's agreement by rolling out more than 500 scooters in the downtown area.

"We must hold every dockless mobility company accountable to the rules," said Spillar in a statement. "Our goal is to create a safe, equitable, fair and transparent mobility environment for everyone. This includes working to ensure that dockless mobility units are distributed equitably across the city in order to serve the mobility needs of people in as many parts of Austin as possible.”

Credit City of Austin
A map of the so-called Downtown Austin Project Coordination Zone, where, the city says, Lime exceeded its cap for scooters by more than double.

Transportation officials say Lime exceeded the cap by as many as 624 scooters, bringing its total to over 1,100 in the area between Nov. 14 and Nov. 20.

If the Transportation Department deems it's in good standing in 30 days, Lime can apply to reinstate the scooters.

“Austin is one of a handful of cities with caps and unique in its caps based on geographic areas," said Sam Sadle, Director of Government Relations and Strategic Development for Lime, in a statement. "Due to extremely high demand from users, we had an unintentional over-deployment of scooters downtown. We have worked around the clock to fix it, and look forward to continuing to work with the City of Austin.”

You can read the full memo from the city here.

The city says it doesn't anticipate the move will reduce the availability of scooters in Austin. According to the city, seven companies have more than 9,000 scooters on the roads.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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