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Lime scooters return to downtown Detroit, Bird ups prices

Lime scooters, which were introduced to Detroit in August, are back on downtown streets. Additionally, about 100 will be available in neighborhoods.

Detroit — A new sign of spring: Some 300 Lime scooters have returned this week to downtown Detroit and will be joined by another 100 in the city's neighborhoods.

Neutron Holdings Inc.'s Lime scooters entered Detroit in August following the introduction of the dockless electric scooters craze by Bird Rides LLC in July. Around December, the scooters began disappearing, but they are returning in force — and some with higher prices.

Lime pulled its scooters from the streets as winter weather approached, said Nico Probst, a Midwest manager of strategic development for the company.

"We had discussions about winter operability," Probst said, "but made the decision in late fall to take the scooters out for winter. I think there was an appetite to test it, but this was our first winter with the scooters."

Detroit is the only city in Michigan where Lime scooters have a presence, though the San Francisco-based company is in discussions with a number of other communities to expand this year. Bird last year had introduced its mobility machines to several Michigan cities including Ann Arbor and Lansing.

It costs $1 to unlock a Lime scooter and another 15 cents per minute to ride one, though the company's Lime Access program allows people who can prove they receive state or federal public assistance to ride for half price. Ford Motor Co.'s Spin, whose scooters have persisted in their placement through most of the winter, has a similar price.

But Bird this weekend increased its rate to 33 cents per minute, according to the California-based company's app. It previously cost 15 cents per minute.

The company said it has updated its pricing range from 10 cents to 33 cents per minute.

"Similar to ride-hailing, Big Macs and cups of coffee, our pricing now varies by city," the company said in a statement.

Bird's fleet included hundreds of scooters last summer in Detroit, though only about 15 are available in the city now, according to its app. The company has said it takes most of its scooters south for the winter months.

Bird has increased prices in other cities, according to media reports. In Baltimore, the company raised the fare to 29 cents per minute; the city charged Bird and Lime each a $15,000 fee up front and a $1 per scooter fee per day. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Bird added a $2 transportation fee on top of its $1 unlock fee after the Raleigh City Council implemented a $300 per scooter fee.

Detroit does not charge scooters companies but caps them at 400 with 100 required to be outside downtown and Midtown. It, however, recently joined Charlotte, North Carolina, and Omaha, Nebraska, in a six-month study to assess the possibility of charging scooter parking fees to the companies.

Lime is participating in the study.