Data notebook: Bloomington’s electric scooter ridership at 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels

Measured by scooter rides, life in Bloomington has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic norms.

Numbers available through the city’s B Clear platform show that for August and September of 2021, a total of 106,083 rides were taken on a shared electric scooter, which is 69 percent of the 154,486 rides taken during the same period in 2019.

In fall of 2020, when pandemic protocols meant Indiana University delivered much of its instruction remotely, ridership for August and September was just 46 percent of the 2019 total.

In fall 2021, the university returned to normal operations, including in-person instruction.

The clear improvement over last year’s numbers, while still falling short of pre-pandemic usage, is similar to the pattern for Bloomington’s public bus system. In pre-pandemic times, about 70 percent of Bloomington Transit bus ridership has come from Indiana University affiliates—students, faculty, and staff.

One significant difference between Bloomington’s scooter scene in 2019, compared to this fall, is the addition of a third scooter company—Veo (formerly VeoRide), which got its start in West Lafayette.

Although Veo scooters didn’t appear in town until the third week of April 2020, the company has now managed to capture about 34 percent of Bloomington’s scooter market. Veo sits between Bloomington’s market leader Lime, which has about half of Bloomington’s market, and Bird, which has about 16 percent.

For the first month after Veo arrived in Bloomington, it was the only scooter game in town.

That was the early days of the pandemic. Lime had pulled its scooters off Bloomington’s streets and Bird had not yet returned after its hiatus, which started in mid-December of 2020. From May to August 2020, it was just Bird and Veo scooters that were available in Bloomington.

When Lime scooters returned in August 2020, they quickly resumed their market-leading position in Bloomington.

Scooters are regulated by an ordinance approved by Bloomington’s city council in 2019.

Companies pay $10,000 a year, plus $0.15 a ride to operate scooters in the city.

Through early September the total amount paid by the three companies to Bloomington is $165,702.10.

In accounting terms, payments from scooter companies are revenue for the city’s general fund. In 2019 Bloomington’s director of public engagement, Mary Catherine Carmichael, told The B Square the scooter money is earmarked for expenses related to management of multimodal transportation.

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