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Scooter and e-bike operators leave Arlington amid micro-mobility industry woes

(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Arlington County is losing a pair of scooter operators this year.

California-based Veo — which operated both scooters and e-bikes — is leaving the area due to market conditions while LINK, the service from Boston-based Superpedestrian, is shutting down all of its U.S. operations.

“It was Veo’s pleasure to serve Arlington County,” Veo told ARLnow in a statement. “However, current market conditions led us to make the decision not to seek a permit renewal in Arlington and Alexandria.”

Veo says it will continue to provide transportation options in D.C and in College Park, Maryland.

“We commend Arlington County for its commitment to advancing sustainable and accessible transportation and look forward to serving the community in the future should circumstances allow,” Veo’s statement continued.

The company has recently expanded into some municipalities, including San Antonio, Texas, and limited access in other areas, such as the Bronx in New York City, where scooters would reportedly end up in the river. Also this year, Fort Wayne, Indiana, ended its 4-year partnership with Veo over alleged negligent behavior by riders.

Superpedestrian is out because it shut down its U.S. operations on Dec. 31 and has been auctioning off its 20,000 bright-yellow and silver electric scooters.

In February 2022, Superpedestrian introduced 333 bright-yellow and silver standing scooters and 50 seated ones to Arlington, its second U.S. market after debuting in Baltimore. Its time in Arlington was short-lived, however.

After getting into micro-mobility in 2020 and raising $125 million early on, Superpedestrian was in a lurch by late 2023, pinning its hopes on more funding and a potential merger that never materialized, TechCrunch reports. The outlet attributed the demise of Superpedestrian — and the death of “the shared electric scooter business as we know it” — to “unfavorable city regulations, high operational costs and hiring bloat as a consequence of VC funding.”

Scooter operators that still have permits to operate in Arlington, Spin and Bird, were not immune from slumps this year. Spin began exiting several European and American cities in 2022 before fellow operator Bird acquired it in September.

Bird, once valued at $2.5 billion, filed for bankruptcy this December after a rocky 2023: Its founder and CEO stepped down, it was removed from the New York Stock Exchange for overstating its revenue and was beginning to pull out of dozens of cities.

Financially, Veo seems to be doing better. This year, it started selling a scooter via online retail.

Arlington’s other authorized operator, Lime, also defied the dismal fates of its competitors, reporting profitability in the first half of 2023, Verge reports. The company ended 2022 with plans to go public on the stock market but remained privately held.

The application for scooter operators is currently available on the Arlington County website. The county allows up to 2,000 e-scooters and 1,000 e-bikes at one time. The companies leaving Arlington, meanwhile, are expected to take all of their scooters and e-bikes with them.

“Departing contractors are required to remove their devices, but if anyone sees a device left behind, they can send a message to the Shared Mobility team at [email protected],” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

This article was updated to correct where Veo is based and remove a reference to a different tech company by the same name.  

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