Uber is launching a fleet of about 300 of its JUMP electric scooters in Baltimore this week, becoming the latest company to join the city’s dockless scooter program, while a competitor nearly doubled the price per minute to ride Monday.
The JUMP scooters are free to unlock and cost 15 cents per minute to operate. They can be reserved and unlocked by scanning the QR code using the Uber app, according to Loic Amado, Uber’s East Coast general manager of scooters. To unlock one, tap the “Mode Switch” option at the top of the home screen and select “Scooter.”
“At Uber, we are working towards a world where Baltimore residents can easily live without a car by taking advantage of a wide variety of transportation options, from scooters to rideshare and beyond,” Amado said in a statement. “Today’s launch gets us closer to that vision by giving people in Baltimore an affordable, environmentally friendly way to get from point A to point B.”
Meanwhile, Bird increased its per-minute price in Baltimore from 15 cents to 29 cents as part of a nationwide rate-resetting.
"Similar to ride-hailing, Big Macs and cups of coffee, our pricing now varies by city,” Bird spokeswoman Mackenzie Long said in a statement. “The price for our environmentally friendly scooters has been updated to range from 10 cents to 33 cents per minute.”
The city Department of Transportation, which oversees the dockless scooter program, welcomed JUMP and was “unaware” of Bird’s price increase, which amounted to a “test of dynamic pricing in Baltimore,” spokeswoman Kathy Dominick said in a statement.
“We are nearing the end of our Dockless Pilot Program, and remain committed to providing affordable, equitable and accessible transportation solutions,” Dominick said. “The rates for the other vendors have remained the same, so with multiple service providers, the public can select the appropriate dockless vehicle based on price, availability, or any other factors.”
The city’s pilot program, which ends April 30, allows for as many as six providers and 12,000 vehicles on streets.
JUMP already had been approved by the city to launch as part of the dockless pilot program. Company officials said they will be handing out free helmets to riders in the next few weeks.
JUMP launched in 2017 as the first dockless electric bicycle sharing company and expanded to scooters last fall after being acquired by Uber. The company has placed pedal-assisted bicycles in a dozen cities but has no immediate plans to offer them in Baltimore, an Uber spokeswoman said.
The City Council last month unanimously approved legislation that would establish permanent rules for dockless scooters and bicycles on city streets, including a $20 fine for speeding on a scooter or parking unlawfully.