Bird’s scooters make their way to Israel in bid to relieve traffic congestion

Bird’s scooters make their way to Israel in bid to relieve traffic congestion

US transportation startup to offer time-based rental of e-scooters via its smartphone application, starting in Tel Aviv University

The Bird scooters set to be deployed in Israel (Courtesy)
The Bird scooters set to be deployed in Israel (Courtesy)

Bird, a US transportation startup that aims to solve the “last mile” problem for commuters by providing them with e-scooters, is starting its first services abroad, and is planning to deploy its scooters in Israel and France.

The company will pilot its rides initially at Tel Aviv University, and then plans to gradually deploy its scooters across the country. The service will be available for riders in the coming weeks, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

This is how it works: Users can download the Bird application and register as riders to start a ride. The e-scooters will be deployed and available for riders each morning in locations which will be visible in the app. Every ride will cost NIS 5 ($1.36) plus a half a shekel per minute. Riders, who must be at least 18, will be prompted to enter their credit card, which will be used to automatically pay for the rides.

Bird will also set up a local network of what it calls “chargers” — people who pick up e-scooters near their homes, charge them overnight and then deploy them at designated “nests” from where users can then pick them up. Chargers will receive NIS 20 for each Bird that they charge and deploy, the statement said.

“We look forward to bringing this innovation to Tel Aviv, and are confident that our product will be the perfect solution for the ‘last mile’ problem as well as commuting inside the city,” said Yaniv Rivlin, the general manager of Bird Israel.

“Israel was chosen by Bird’s management to be one of the company’s first locations outside of the US,” he said. “Israel, and Tel Aviv especially, are exceptionally suitable to the product and the service that we offer.”

Bird will join other “last mile” ride-sharing solutions that are already operating in Israel, such as Car2Go, where you pick up a Car2Go vehicle anywhere on the street and drop it off anywhere else, once you are done, and China’s Mobike bicycles, which are not tied down to fixed stations. Another Chinese dock-less bike-sharing firm, ofo, pulled out of the Israeli market in June this year, after running its pilot schemes in Ramat Gan and at the Weizman Institute of Science.

Data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics shows that during the last four years, some 10,000 new cars were added to Israeli roads every month, with a total of more than 1.2 million new cars in the last five years. An OECD report found that the transportation situation in Israel is the worst among its member states, and the situation is likely to get worse.

“Shared transport solutions are amongst the main elements that will help solve road congestion in Israel, and we will act in every way possible to promote the introduction of shared transport solutions, ranging from e-scooters to tracks and buses,” said Ori Yogev, the co-founder of Future Mobility IL, an organization that aims to make Israel a leader in “the smart transportation revolution,” the statement said.

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