Lime is temporarily suspending service in California and Washington, as well as Italy, France, and Spain, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The announcement came after San Francisco and its surrounding counties instituted a “shelter in place” order intended to curb the spread of the disease.
Lime may have little choice to suspend service in California after the Bay Area’s “shelter in place” order effectively bans nonessential travel “on foot, bicycle, scooter, automobile or public transit,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. But the decision to ground its scooter fleet in Washington and three European countries, places hard hit by the pandemic, is so far unprecedented in the nascent micromobility space.
“Like you, we are worried about the cities we love and call home, the people we serve, and our colleagues on the ground,” Brad Bao, CEO of Lime, said in a blog post. “Loving cities means protecting them too. For now, we’re pausing Lime service to help people stay put and stay safe.”
So far, other major scooter companies like Bird, Spin, Skip, Uber, and Lyft have yet to take similar dramatic measures. In response to a request for comment, spokespeople for those companies said they had yet to make a decision or were closely monitoring the situation.
All of the scooter companies have said they have stepped up their cleaning procedures and are advising customers to protect themselves by wearing gloves while riding.
The pandemic could be a disaster for the scooter rental business, especially coming on the heels of the winter season, which is when most companies see a large dip in ridership and revenue. In January, the company announced that it was laying off 14 percent of its workers and exiting 12 markets.
Lime, along with its rivals like Bird, Uber, and Lyft, have struggled to make scooter-sharing profitable. Most experts agree that the market is oversaturated and needs to consolidate. Lime joins Bird, Skip, Scoot, and Lyft in laying off its scooter-related employees in recent months.