Scooter-rental companies Bird Rides Inc. and Lime could return to Indianapolis as soon as Sept. 4, after receiving approval of their license applications, the city announced Tuesday.
But the companies won't be able to offer as many as scooters as they'd hoped, at least for 30 days.
In a followup email issued about an hour after its original announcement, the city said it was capping the number of scooters that each company can offer at 1,500 for the first 30 days. That's only a quarter of the number that Bird was hoping to make available in Indianapolis.
Bird, which filed its application Aug. 7, said it wanted to relaunch service in Indianapolis with 6,000 electronic scooters that it would offer throughout most of the city.
That’s 4,200 more scooters than rival operator Lime applied for this month in its permit application with Indianapolis.
Brandi Pahl, the city's chief communications officer, said the companies would face no scooter limits after 30 days unless a cap was deemed necessary by the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.
Bird operated locally for about 28 days before pulling about 500 scooters off the streets in mid-July at the request of the city while City-County Council members came up with a regulatory ordinance for scooter-rental services.
Lime offered about 300 rent-by-the-minute scooters for just a few weeks before halting operations July 5.
The council approved the new regulations July 16 and began taking license applications this month.
The Department of Business and Neighborhood Services initially said it intended to issue licenses within a week of receiving applications, but later dropped that timeline.
The city said the department has been “working diligently with both companies so they can start putting scooters back on the streets.”
“We believe a growing, thriving city should have a variety of transportation options for residents and will continue to work with Bird, Lime, and any other companies that choose to do business in Indianapolis,” said Brian Madison, director of Business and Neighborhood Services, in written comments.
The city emphasized that, under the new regulations, scooters are not allowed on sidewalks, trails (including the Cultural and Monon trails), the Canal Walkway or in White River State Park.
The ordinance passed by the city calls for the scooter-rental services to pay a $15,000 annual license fee, plus $1 per scooter per day.
That would translate into more than $2.2 million in payments to the city from Bird each year and $672,000 annually from Lime.
The companies said they would continue to charge $1 per ride plus 15 cents per minute for the scooters, which are activated through use of a phone application.