Charlotte Micro-mobility Program Bounces Back from COVID-19

The City works with Passport to launch a dynamic pricing model that helped bring scooters back for essential workers

Early in 2020, the City of Charlotte and Passport, a transportation software company, worked together to launch a dynamic pricing mobility management pilot program for shared e-scooters. This program was unique in that it charged micro-mobility operators, like Bird, Lime, and Spin, dynamic parking fees based on where scooters were parked in the City and for how long they sit parked along streets and sidewalks. The program was off to a good start in January and February, but in March, the entire future of the program was threatened by COVID-19.

“When COVID-19 hit, like other cities, we had to scramble,” said David Harrison, a Transportation Planner at the City of Charlotte. No one was certain on how the pandemic was spreading, so mobility providers halted their operations out of an abundance of caution. “We wanted to be mindful of the sudden economic hardship that mobility companies faced while continuing to provide transportation choices for essential trips.” continued David.

Due to the dramatic change in commuting patterns, Passport, the City, and micro-mobility providers collaborated to adjust the parking prices for scooters in the City. “We are applying parking prices to scooters – essentially, the same principle as changing parking rates in high demand areas,” said Marcus Flores, Product Manager at Passport. The longer scooters are parked at the curb, the higher the costs to scooter providers, so the pricing model creates a natural check on the size of scooter fleets and is adaptable to certain circumstances and events. “Micro-mobility provides such an important means of transportation, so we provided an incentive that ensured individuals who needed to travel, like front-line workers, could do so easily by lowering rates in certain areas.” Marcus explains.     

The program rebounded well as citizens looked for more socially distanced means of travel. Trips show longer durations than they had prior to COVID-19, and usage picked back up toward the end of the summer. While scooter activity slowed in the winter months due to colder weather, a look back at the program reveals an interesting insight related to some of the core thinking behind Passport’s approach.

“In Charlotte, the dynamic pricing model for micro-mobility management has proven to be a successful tool in managing the distribution of e-scooters, providing access to those who need them most.” explains David. “By using Passport’s digital platform, we’re gathering meaningful data insights that will likely play an increasingly important role in the design of our streets and providing transportation choices.”

Passport continues to help cities recover from the pandemic through its innovative operating system. To learn more about how Passport supports cities’ mobility infrastructure, visit the company website.