Through some coordination between a tech giant and a fast-growing scooter and bike sharing startup, Baltimore smartphone users will soon be able to find a rentable, bright green scooter or bike using Google Maps.
Lime, one of two dockless ride sharing companies operating in pilot status in Baltimore at the moment, has linked up with Google to allow riders one of its vehicle via the transit tab in Google Maps (the same tab that shows users how to get somewhere using light rail, subway or bus).
The collaboration will be similar to what Google Maps offers with Lyft or Uber, showing the estimated time of arrival and the cost to get there. But this will also show you the scooter or bike’s battery life and an estimate for how long it’ll take to reach the vehicle.
According to this blog post from Google, tapping the Lime option will redirect your phone to the company’s app. It’ll also likely help the startup sign up more users, since those who aren’t already registered will be redirected to the App or Google Play store.
For reference, Lime costs $1 to start a ride and 15 cents per minute thereafter, meaning a 30-minute trip (say, from Fishbowl HQ on The Avenue to the Inner Harbor) would cost about $5.50.
Baltimore is one of 13 cities around the country where Lime and Google are rolling this out. The others include Austin, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Antonio, San Jose, Scottsdale and Seattle, as well as Auckland, in New Zealand, and Brisbane, in Australia. Others are coming, according to the announcement.
While Lime offers its vehicles for rent in more than 125 markets around the world, a spokesperson said the company picked Baltimore and the dozen other cities due to their particular popularity there.
As Lisa Snowden-McCray reported for WYPR, the rentable scooters from Lime and its competitor, Bird, are widely used around the city, and not just confined to the Inner Harbor or the white L. (Mayor Catherine Pugh has also taken some joyrides on them outside City Hall.) The company has dropped off at least 400 scooters here—it said in a more recent release that the total will be 1,000, the maximum allowed in its contract with the city—as well as 250 electric-assisted bikes as of last weekend, giving the city its first dockless bike share option.
Bird, which quietly left dozens of its black, white and red electric scooters here in June before also entering into a pilot agreement, is paying $15,000, plus a dollar per scooter per day to the city to be here.
Lime has the same deal for its scooters, but in October, city officials approved a new arrangement allowing the company to pay a flat fee of $20 per bike. A DOT spokesman told Baltimore Fishbowl that change was carved out to allow for Lime “to sustainably operate” here. In emails obtained by The Sun, company officials had said the other arrangement was “not feasible” for them, financially.
The pilot programs expire at the end of February. After that, DOT said it will evaluate the successes of both programs to develop regulations for dockless transit in Baltimore.
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