Residents could see electric scooters in Meridian as early as June 1.
Later this month, the city of Meridian will ask city council to approve a contract with the company Bird, allowing it to deploy up to 500 scooters in the city.
In late February, Meridian City Council voted in favor of using a request for proposal process to choose up to two e-scooter companies that would deploy in Meridian. The city received applications from rideshare companies Lime and Bird. The committee overseeing the process — comprised of eight city staff and residents — recommended Bird.
“The committee really only thought Bird was the appropriate vendor for the city,” said city attorney Bill Nary at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
Both Lime and Bird operate in Boise.
The committee in Meridian scored the two proposals on a 100-point scale, looking at safety, appropriateness for the city, and competence and implementation — including customer service — as well as the program’s consistency with the city’s policies and values, and remote regulation of speed and location of their scooters, Nary told the Meridian Press.
Committee members gave Bird an overall higher score than they did Lime. Bird averaged 88 points, while Lime averaged 69 points. Nary said the committee members thought there was a large enough score gap that they should solely recommend Bird.
If Meridian City Council approves the contract with Bird, it will be effective until the end of the year. Nary said in a couple of months the city could look at rider data and prepare a new contract starting Jan. 1. The city would also have the option to open up the contract to other e-scooter companies.
If council chooses to deny the contract, the process of redoing the RFP process will likely take the city through the end of the summer, Nary said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Ty Palmer expressed frustration with the wording in the RFP.
The request asks for proposals that would “provide an exclusive franchise for the city.” Palmer expressed concerns that companies read that to mean the city would only accept one vendor, rather than up to two like the council intended.
Nary said it didn’t explicitly say anywhere in the RFP that the city would only accept one vendor, and applicants could have asked the city if they had questions about the request.
E-scooters hit Boise streets in October. Last month, a third e-scooter company launched in Boise. The company, Ford-owned Spin, launched on April 20 with 50 scooters. Boise city code allows each company to deploy up to 250 scooters at a time.
That number could be higher soon. Boise City Council will be taking up changes to the policy later this year to possibly increase the number of permitted scooters citywide from 750 to 1,500.
E-scooters from Lime launched in Meridian in late September 2018, getting mixed reactions from residents and officials. Within a week, the city asked Lime to pause use of the scooters and redeploy around mid-March 2019.