Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Bookmark and Share
File #: 23-2066   
Type: Information and Discussion Status: Agenda Ready
Meeting Body: Transportation, Infrastructure, and Planning Subcommittee
On agenda: 9/20/2023 Final action:
Title: Shared Micromobility Program Six-Month Update
District: District 7, District 8
Attachments: 1. Attachment A - Lime Data, 2. Attachment B - Lime and Spin Letter, 3. Attachment C - Policy and Recommendations, 4. Attachment D - Parking Proposal, 5. Attachment E - Spin Data, 6. Attachment F - One-Mile Boundary Proposal, 7. Attachment G - Two-Mile Boundary Proposal

Title

Shared Micromobility Program Six-Month Update

 

Description

This report provides information to the Transportation, Infrastructure and Planning Subcommittee on the first six months of the Shared Micromobility Program. This report includes updates on utilization and compliance, and provides recommendations on program improvements following this six-month update.

 

THIS ITEM IS FOR INFORMATION AND DISCUSSION.

 

Report

Summary

The City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department (Streets) launched a Shared Micromobility Program (Micromobility Program) to replace the Downtown Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program (Pilot Program) on Jan. 20, 2023. The Micromobility Program built upon the Pilot Program by expanding the program boundaries and the types of vehicles available. Additionally, the Micromobility Program used a competitive procurement process to select two vendors to provide shared micromobility services in designated operating areas. Moving from a permitting process to a City contract allowed the Micromobility Program to introduce a number of regulations that ensure the Micromobility Program is serving the overall Phoenix community. Namely, vendors must deploy 30 percent of the fleet in equity zones, provide accessible vehicles and traditional bikes in addition to electric scooters (e-scooters) and electric bikes (e-bikes), require vehicles be locked up at the end of rides outside of downtown, and deploy bikes (traditional and electric) as a minimum 20 percent of their fleet.

 

When the Micromobility Program was approved by City Council, staff committed to provide a six-month progress update to the Transportation, Infrastructure and Planning Subcommittee. This report provides an overview of the Micromobility Program's six month performance, including fleet size compliance, utilization, equity zone compliance, bicycle compliance, parking compliance, and accessible vehicle compliance. This report also includes program updates, boundary expansion, vendor requests, and staff recommendations along with and recommended next steps.

 

Micromobility Program Performance

The Micromobility Program has experienced an overall growth in ridership since its kickoff in January 2023. The Micromobility Program helped support alternate mobility options for residents and visitors in Phoenix during Super Bowl events in February with a total of 34,731 trips. Connectivity throughout the downtown core was an essential transportation win for the Micromobility Program during this significant event. The number of trips continued to grow in later months, with 36,448 trips in March and 40,148 trips in April. A gradual dip began to occur as the hotter summer months began, with 35,889 trips in May and 30,489 trips in June. Overall, there have been over 185,000 trips from Jan. 20 through June 30, 2023.

 

Fleet Size Compliance and Vehicle Utilization

An average of 1,434 vehicles have been available within the Micromobility Program boundaries since its inception. The existing policy for fleet size compliance is a maximum of 1,500 vehicles available within the program boundary for each vendor and a maximum of 600 vehicles available in the downtown core for each vendor. The two vendors, Lime and Spin, have been 100 percent compliant in remaining under the maximum of 1,500 vehicles per vendor within the program boundary. Within the downtown core, Spin has been 100 percent compliant in remaining under the maximum of 600 vehicles. Lime has been compliant 78 percent of the time, with the increased number of vehicles above the maximum limit in their fleet occurring in February 2023. 

 

A key metric for evaluating the performance of a shared micromobility system is the number of trips per vehicle per day, or the utilization rate (UR). In the 2021 Shared Micromobility State of the Industry Report, the North American Bikeshare Association reported an average of 2.0 UR for traditional bikes and e-bikes, and an average of 1.9 UR for e-scooters. From Jan. 20 through June 30, 2023, the overall UR for the City's Micromobility Program has been 0.80. For e-bikes, the average UR was 0.29, while e-scooters had an average UR of 0.85. The relatively low demand for micromobility in general, and shared bikes specifically, in Phoenix may reflect the overall lower rate of biking in Phoenix where 0.5 percent of adults use a bicycle to commute, based on the American Community Survey 2021 Five-Year Estimates.

 

Currently, the Micromobility Program has two vendors, which meets industry best practices for the size of our market. In a statement on micromobility regulation best practices released on May 15, 2023, by micromobility vendors Lime, Spin, Superpedestrian, and Bird, the Phoenix market was praised for having the appropriate number of vendors as to not over-saturate the market. A maximum of two vendors is the right amount for 1,000-2,000 scooters and is appropriate for providing healthy market competition, customer choice, and overall administrative duties for a city like Phoenix.

 

Equity Zone Compliance

On average, 19.2 percent of the vehicle fleet has been deployed in equity zones from Jan. 20 through June 30, 2023. While average percentages have remained under the program requirement of 30 percent, there has been a gradual increase in the percentage of fleet vehicles available in equity zones. Twelve percent of the existing fleet was deployed in equity zones in January, and by June the average percentage of vehicles deployed in equity zones rose to 26 percent. Although the number of vehicles deployed in equity zones rose, the utilization rates in equity zones have been relatively low with an average of 0.4 for e-scooters and 0.2 for e-bikes.

 

Throughout the Micromobility Program thus far, there have been more travelers riding in central and eastern Phoenix in comparison to south Phoenix. Equity zones in the eastern and central parts on the existing Micromobility Program generate the vast majority of ridership in equity zones (Attachment A, pages 2-3). Currently, construction along the South Central Light Rail corridor creates obstructions on the street and sidewalk, which prevents people from riding in this portion of the Micromobility Program operating area. We anticipate more activity in this area when the South Central Light Rail opens, creating opportunities for first/last mile connections to transit and adding bike lanes for more comfortable trips within and through this transportation corridor.

 

Bicycle Compliance

The program requirement is for 20 percent of the fleet to be bicycles, either e-bikes or pedal bikes. On average from Jan. 20 through June 30, 2023, e-bikes consisted of 7.6 percent of the vehicle fleet. Percentages have generally remained below 10 percent and gradually decreased to 4.5 percent by June.

 

Traditional Bike Libraries and Accessible Vehicles 

When Streets established the Micromobility Program, the Department sought to ensure a wide variety of vehicles were available. Vendors were asked to provide e-scooters, e-bikes, traditional bikes, and accessible vehicles. Both selected vendors (Lime and Spin) committed to providing e-bikes along with e-scooters in the right-of-way. Spin committed to providing traditional bikes through a library system, along with accessible vehicles. Lime committed to providing traditional bikes in the right-of-way and its accessible vehicles through a library system. Lime has since asked to provide traditional bikes through a library system as well due to concerns around theft.

 

Both vendors are anticipating a launch of the library rental system in early fall 2023. Delays for this program have been due to extended delivery times and device shortages. The Lime library system will allow users to reserve a traditional bike or accessibility vehicle online at least 24 hours in advance. Vehicles will be delivered to the user within the boundary area, and the vehicles will be picked up from the users after 24 hours. Users must register with the Lime app, but there will be no cost to the user. The Spin library system will allow users to reserve a traditional bike online at least 24 hours in advance. Users will pick up the vehicles at the centrally located Spin warehouse, and the rental period will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Users must register with the Spin app, but there will be no cost to the user. Accessible vehicle rentals with Spin are already live. These vehicles can be rented at least 24 hours in advance and are to be picked up at the centrally located Spin warehouse.

 

While the library system does not allow users to rent traditional bikes in the right-of- way, it allows users to reserve traditional bikes for a longer period of time at no cost. This approach mitigates against theft, while also increasing access to traditional bikes by making them free to check out and use.

 

Parking Compliance

There has been an overall improvement in parking and sweeping compliance since the start of the program. The vendors have adjusted their staffing approaches and improved how they go into the field to ensure sidewalks are organized and orderly. While there have been improvements, vendors have continued to struggle with staff recruitment and retention, which affects their ability to address vehicle parking non-compliance throughout the City. Residents can report incorrectly parked vehicles to each designated vendor customer support, the myPHX311 app, and the Micromobility Program e-mail at scooters@phoenix.gov. Vehicles are meant to be moved within two hours of being reported to the vendor. 

 

Cost and Revenue

Under the contractual agreement between the vendors and the City, the vendors provide a City Revenue Share based on per trip fees of $0.15 to $0.25. The contract requires a minimum annual guarantee for the City Revenue Share in the amount of $15,000 per vendor, paid in monthly increments. Trip fees in excess of the minimum annual guarantee are reconciled and paid to the City on a quarterly basis. Trips in the Micromobility Program have exceeded the minimum annual guarantee, and the City has received a total of $20,421.43 in additional revenue between January and June 2023. Total revenue, including the minimum annual guarantee, totals to $33,889.17. The anticipated revenue for this year is over $50,500.

 

The contractual agreement requires vendors to invest in capital improvements such as installing bike racks and corrals, while maintaining vehicles and sweeps. These infrastructure and maintenance costs are incurred by the vendors.

 

Potential Program Updates

Streets staff has identified a few program updates that could increase compliance, ridership, and program performance. Spin and Lime issued a letter to Streets dated June 2, 2023, with requested updates to program policies for improving ridership. The letter (Attachment B) requests for 24/7 operations, revised bicycle minimums, and adjustments for equity zone deployment. A comparison of existing policies, vendor requests, and staff-recommended adjustments are summarized in Attachment C.  Additionally, Lime (Attachment A) and Spin (Attachment E) provided additional information relative to their operations both in Phoenix and in other markets. 

 

Bike Fleet

Currently, the Micromobility Program requirement for e-bike and traditional bike deployment is 20 percent of the fleet. Due to low ridership, the vendors have requested a reduction to 5 percent in the e-bike deployment requirement. Streets staff recommend a change to a ten percent e-bike fleet minimum, as it is more appropriate based on the current rate of people using e-bikes.

 

Streets staff further recommends a dynamic approach to setting the e-bike fleet minimum based on e-bike utilization rates. A dynamic approach would allow for an increase in supply of e-bikes to increase with the demand for the service. In the event UR is above 0.5, the bike fleet minimum will increase to 15 percent. If the UR increases to 1.0, the fleet bike fleet minimum increases to 20 percent. The bike fleet minimum can increase to 25 percent in the event the UR reaches 1.25.

 

Equity Zones

Currently, vendors provide an equity zone discount of 30 percent to any rider who begins their trip in an equity zone. In addition, vendors offer reduced rates for individuals living on low income and/or receiving government assistance through designated access programs. Additionally, the program requires 30 percent of a vendor’s fleet to be deployed in equity zones. The vendors have requested a reduction in the equity zone deployment requirement to 15 percent. City staff recommends a dynamic approach in reducing equity zone vehicle deployment minimums, with a minimum 15 percent deployment based on current utilization rates. Staff anticipates an increase in utilization in equity zones, so a dynamic approach is appropriate when considering changes in deployment in the future. In the event the UR in equity zones is above 0.5, the equity zone fleet minimum will increase to 25 percent. If the UR is above 1.0, the equity zone fleet minimum increases to 30 percent. To encourage more ridership in these areas, staff recommends no changes in the 30 percent discount requirement for any ride starting in an equity zone.

 

Operating Hours

Current operating hours for the Micromobility Program are between 5 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. daily. These operating hours were selected to prevent people from operating the vehicles while intoxicated. Vendors are interested in providing 24/7 service in the City to allow for an increase in utilization of the program between the hours of 12 a.m. and 4:59 a.m. Both vendors use advanced technology on their designated smart phone apps that can assist in identifying intoxication using a sobriety test before unlocking a vehicle (Attachment A, page 9 and Attachment E, page 2). Streets staff recommends no changes to operating hours but will conduct further investigation of how 24/7 operating hours may impact the Micromobility Program and overall safety.

 

Boundary Expansion

There is a demand for e-scooters and e-bikes to be accessible beyond the existing program boundary. Based on app pickups and data from the vendors, people outside the boundary want to use the program but are not able to because the boundary is limited. Demand is especially prominent by and around the existing and future light rail extensions. According to Lime data, in the first six months of 2023, nearly 2,000 trips started or ended within 100 feet of public transit stops. In addition, the North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association (NABSA) released their 2022 Shared Micromobility State of the Industry Report where they found that 23 percent of all shared micromobility trips were for the purpose of connecting to transit. Staff is proposing a program boundary expansion along the light rail corridor. The proposed boundary options include a one-mile (Attachment F) or a two-mile (Attachment G) expansion along each side of the light rail and will provide more multi-modal connectivity throughout a transit-oriented development corridor. In addition, according to the 2019 Origin and Destination study conducted by Valley Metro, 73 percent of riders access light rail stations by walking, while 14 percent of riders bike to light rail stations. Expansion of the Micromobility Program along this corridor can assist in better connecting all riders to various transportation options in the City. 

 

Streets staff does not recommend expanding the program boundary right now. However, staff plans to explore boundary expansion over the next six months, with the potential to expand the program boundary at the one-year mark of the Micromobility Program in January 2024. 

 

Parking Requirements

Currently there are two different parking requirements within the Micromobility Program. Inside of the downtown core, riders must park their vehicles at a designated parking area (corrals), defined by white tape with parking decals. Outside of the downtown core, riders must park by locking the vehicle (using the built-in smart lock) to a bicycle rack or other vertical element in the right-of-way. The Pilot Program only allowed parking in corrals. The launch of the permanent Micromobility Program was the first time Phoenix allowed free-floating parking.

 

While free-floating parking allows more flexibility for riders on where they end their trip, it also increases challenges with people leaving vehicles in the middle of a sidewalk or a pedestrian ramp. The lock-to requirement was a part of the Micromobility Program in order to keep the sidewalks clear and ensure riders parked their vehicle near a bike rack or other vertical element at the edge of a sidewalk.

 

Challenges that have come with parking compliance include riders not locking their vehicles or leaving them in the middle of the sidewalk. When comparing locking requirements versus parking corrals, there is a lack of evidence that lock-to requirements lead to a higher rate of parking compliance. Monitoring and enforcing parking compliance is a major challenge with free-floating parking. It is not possible to remotely monitor whether a vehicle has been locked to something in the right-of-way. Moreover, the geo-location on the vehicles is not precise enough to confirm whether a vehicle is in the middle of a sidewalk or a pedestrian ramp. Restricting parking to corrals allows vendors and staff to better monitor vehicle parking. If there are consistent parking issues near a corral, the corral location and digital boundaries can be restricted or even moved.

 

Streets staff recommends installing program-wide parking corrals throughout current and future program boundaries. A map of the corral locations is included as Attachment D. The cost of establishing and maintaining these corrals will be the responsibility of the vendors. When riders using either the Lime or Spin app end their ride, the app will show users where parking zones are located. The app will have a message that informs the rider of the parking requirement and prompts them to move the vehicle into the correct place. A consistent parking policy within the program boundaries will also help riders to understand and comply with the parking requirements.

 

Concurrence/Previous Council Action

The Transportation, Infrastructure, and Planning Subcommittee:

  • Was provided information on the proposed Comprehensive Micromobility Program on Oct. 20, 2021;
  • Recommended approval to issue a solicitation for the program on April 20, 2022, by a vote of 4-0; and
  • Recommended approval to amend Phoenix City Code to establish the Shared Micromobility Program on May 17, 2023, by a unanimous vote.

 

The Economic Development and Equity Subcommittee:

  • Was provided an update on the Shared Micromobility Shared Revenue Contract Solicitation on Dec. 13, 2022; and
  • Was provided an update on utilization of electric scooters and electric bikes in the Shared Micromobility Program on June 28, 2023.

 

The City Council approved:

  • The Pilot Program (Ordinance G-6602) on June 26, 2019;
  • A Pilot Program extension (Ordinance G-6676) on Feb. 19, 2020;
  • A sunset provision extension (Ordinance G-6772) on Dec. 2, 2020;
  • A Pilot Program extension and a sunset provision extension (Ordinance G-6823) on March 17, 2021;
  • A Pilot Program extension, a sunset provision extension, and the allowance of electric bicycles on public streets citywide (Ordinance G-6967) on March 2, 2022;
  • The issuance of a Request for Proposals to operate a Comprehensive Micromobility Program in Phoenix on May 11, 2022; and
  • The award of the Revenue Contract Solicitation to two micromobility vendors to operate shared micromobility services in Phoenix on Jan. 14, 2022.

 

Location

The Micromobility Program currently operates in Council Districts 7 and 8.

 

Department

Responsible Department

This item is submitted by Deputy City Manager Alan Stephenson and the Street Transportation Department.