How Much Do Scooter Rides Cost? Depends on Your Neighborhood

Uber will swing scooter prices by as much as 30 cents per minute, depending on local demand: higher costs where scooters are used and lower where they’re parked. The surge pricing will start in Dallas and Tampa, Fla.
by Melissa Repko, The Dallas Morning News | October 19, 2019 AT 3:01 AM

(TNS) — Uber’s electric scooter company Jump will soon test a new pricing model in Dallas to try to accelerate use of its two-wheelers, company officials said.

Starting next week, scooter riders will pay higher or lower prices based on historical demand in different parts of the city. The price will range from 15 cents to 45 cents per minute. It will be higher in places where the scooters are typically used and lower where they’re often parked.

Uber is doing the approximately two-month test in two markets: Dallas and Tampa, Fla. Uber spokesman Matt Wing said the company chose the two cities because they have warmer climates where customers continue to use scooters during the fall.

By varying prices, Uber wants to increase use of rental scooters that cost money to maintain and recharge — but can languish unused for hours. Uber’s Jump has more than 1,000 scooters in Dallas. It also competes with similar scooter-share companies, including Lime and Bird. Uber pulled its electric bikes out of the Dallas market this summer.

“We spend a lot of time researching and bringing them [scooters] into the markets," Wing said. “If you are going to put in investment to bring them into a city and put them on the streets, that’s only going to work if they’re constantly in use."

The San Francisco-based company wants Jump’s electric bikes and scooters to “become a mainstay of city transportation,” he said.

Uber began as a ride-hailing company but now wants to help customers navigate all kinds of trips across cities. Scooters, urban air taxis and public transit are all part of that vision. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at a conference this summer that Uber wants “not just to be the Amazon of transportation but also the Google of transportation.”

But since its disappointing initial public offering in May, Uber has been under pressure to prove that it can become a profitable business. It has had three significant rounds of layoffs, including a cut of 350 people this week in its food delivery, autonomous vehicles, safety, insurance and other teams.

Uber has been trying to make its bikes and scooters profitable, too. It has raised prices in several markets, including Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle.

In Dallas, Wing said scooter users will get an email about the variable pricing. They will be notified in the app, before they book a scooter, too. He would not identify Dallas neighborhoods where customers will see the higher or lower prices.

Uber already varies prices for ride-hailing, but only in one direction. When there are more ride requests than Uber drivers, such as after a crowded concert, it uses “surge pricing." The higher prices encourage more drivers to go to that area to pick up customers. Customers get a notice about the increased prices in the app.

Unlike surge pricing, variable scooter prices will not be instantaneous, Wing said.

Dallas is a major market for Uber. The company is opening an office in Deep Ellum that’s expected to grow to 3,000 employees and become its second-largest office outside of its San Francisco headquarters. It also plans to pilot its urban air taxi service, Uber Air, in Dallas.

Starting in November, Uber will map streets in downtown Dallas with plans to test its self-driving cars in the city.

©2019 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.