Electric Scooter Startup Bird Offers Discounts for Low-Income Riders

The company will waive its $1.00 base fee for riders who are enrolled in, or qualify for, assistance programs.

Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The electric scooter rental startup Bird is waiving its base $1.00 fee for low-income riders. The discount applies to anyone "currently enrolled in or eligible for" state and federal assistance programs like SNAP or Medicaid, the startup said in a blog post. These people will instead pay only the 15 cents per minute rate Bird charges all users.

Individuals who want to receive the discount will have to email a specific account with proof of their enrollment or qualification for a relevant assistance program, name, and phone number. Bird expects applications to be processed within two to three business days. The startup is offering the discount in all 18 cities in which it currently operates.

TechCrunch notes that Lime, a startup that rents both electric scooters and bicycles, started a similar program earlier this year. The company, which now counts Uber as an investor, offers 100 bike rentals for $5.00 to people on assistance programs. New York City's CitiBike bike-sharing program also offers discounts to people living in public housing.

Bird was founded about a year ago by former Uber and Lyft executive Travis VanderZanden. While it has encountered some regulatory issues, it has managed to raise around $400 million so far. The startup is taking advantage of the surge in popularity of scooters which, along with bikes, are viewed by Uber and Lyft as new area of growth beyond ride-hailing.

Lyft recently acquired Motivate, the company that runs CitiBike and numerous other bike-sharing programs. The company has also applied for a license to rent e-scooters in San Francisco, indicating an attempt to challenge the Uber-Lime alliance. Both Uber and Lyft believe bike and scooter sharing can complement ride-hailing, as well as public transit, but it remains to be seen how smoothly all of these services will work together as one cohesive system.