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Future Of Scooters Unclear With Bankruptcy Announcement

Electric scooter company Bird Global announced Dec. 20 that it filed for bankruptcy protection in an attempt to stabilize its wobbly finances. AP photo

Jamestown has received no indication that an electric scooter company the city began partnering with last fall will suspend operations locally after its parent company recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

Stephen Neilans, city communications coordinator, last week said the city was still gathering information from its contacts at Bird.

According to the Associated Press, the Miami-based Bird Global has lost more than $430 million since the end of 2021. Bird had lined up $25 million in financing from MidCap Financial, a division of Apollo Global Management, as it tries to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Florida.

Bird’s popularity in Jamestown was evident by its brief usage last fall.

Over a 58-day period beginning in September, 771 unique users traveled a total of 6,000 miles on one of Bird Bikeshare’s electric bikes or scooters available for rent throughout the city. The average ride was about 1.4 miles and lasted 13 minutes.

Under the pilot agreement between the city and Bird, Jamestown received a 20% flat rate share of each rental. During the two months the bikes and scooters were available, there were 4,600 rentals, which averaged about 80 a day.

Many users who started in one place and then returned to the same spot came from SUNY Jamestown Community College.

Former Councilwoman Marie Carrubba, who also is a member of the college’s board of trustees, was surprised by the information. “I hadn’t thought about that,” Carrubba said during a City Council meeting last month when scooter usage was discussed. “But since there really aren’t a lot of buses that run between the colleges, one of the complaints is that, especially if someone is living in the dorms, they don’t have access to transportation. I never thought about it being a commuting vehicle.”

In an Associated Press report, Michael Washinushi, Bird’s interim CEO, predicted the company will be able to bounce back and continue its “mission to make cities more livable” by providing vehicles that don’t clog the roads nor burn fuel. But investors seemed doubtful as Bird’s stock lost nearly 80% of its remaining value Dec. 20 when the bankruptcy filing was announced to close at 8 cents per share, the AP said.

Neilans said more information on Bird and its operations in the city will be released when it becomes available.

The project was first announced under former Mayor Eddie Sundquist; it’s not yet clear whether the program will continue under the new administration.

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