Meridian residents could see Bird scooters deployed as early as next week, but the city is sticking with its choice not to contract with Lime, another rideshare company.
Meridian City Council on Tuesday denied Lime’s appeal of the city’s denial of its application to operate in Meridian.
The city is finalizing the last bit of paperwork to allow Bird to deploy. That contract will go until the end of the year, at which point the city will allow companies to reapply.
“Lime will have another opportunity to apply in six months,” Meridian City Council Vice President Luke Cavener said.
Lime and Bird both operate in Boise and are looking to expand to Meridian. Lime did deploy scooters in Meridian last fall, but pulled them from the streets after six days at the city’s request to work out some kinks.
The city then set up a committee of staff and residents to review e-scooter companies’ proposals. Bird and Lime both responded to the city’s request for proposals for rideshare companies. The committee gave Bird a higher score, based on things like safety and customer service, and only recommended that the city enter a contract with Bird, not with Lime.
Lime appealed this decision, arguing that one of the seven committee members, Emily Kane, was biased against Lime. Kane, Meridian’s deputy city attorney, awarded Lime only eight points out of 100.
All committee members gave Lime a lower score than they gave Bird. Excluding Kane’s scores, the largest variance between the Lime and Bird was given by Meridian developer Josh Evarts, who gave Bird 90 points and Lime 74.
Meridian’s purchasing manager, Keith Watts, noted the scoring of the applications was only one aspect of the RFP process and every member of the committee chose Bird because of the deficiencies in Lime’s application. The committee, for example, didn’t like that Lime didn’t have a tool preventing underage riders, Watts said on Tuesday.
Lime sent a supplemental appeal letter to the city on June 6, stating that the process was not fair.
City staff had initially recommended the city only choose one scooter company to deploy, rather than two, but council voted in favor of up to two. Lime’s letter states Kane was “dissatisfied with the City Council’s decision to pursue an RFP process that would select ‘up to two vendors,’” and “took it upon herself to ensure that only one vendor would be selected: Bird.”
In an email Kane said she had no bias for or against either Lime or Bird, and the process was fair and followed city policy and procedures.
"My evaluation of the proposed programs was based on the information presented in the proposals themselves," she said over email.
Throughout Tuesday night’s hearing, no members of council agreed that Kane was biased against Lime or was acting unethically. Despite some interest by members of council, city attorney Bill Nary said by law the city could either accept the committee’s proposal — allowing only Bird to deploy — or restart the process.
Cavener and Councilman Ty Palmer both stated they would like to restart the process. Both had concerns the proposal was not clear that members of the committee could pick up to two companies. Cavener’s motion to do so, however, was denied.
Instead a motion to deny Lime’s appeal passed, with only Palmer voting against it.