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There’s a new way to get around town these days; it’s cheap, eco-friendly and a lot of fun. We’re talking, of course, about Lime Scooters.
These dockless electric scooters are becoming the go-to option for convenient public transportation. They started in San Francisco and other cities in California and quickly moved into cities all over the United States. By now, you’ve probably seen someone using one around town, especially if your daily commute takes you near a college campus or you live in a large city.
In this article, we’re discussing everything you need to know to get started with Lime. But, more importantly, we are going to go into detail on how much Lime Scooters cost. Let’s jump in.
How Much Do Lime Scooters Cost?
Overall, Lime-S scooters are very affordable. Their pricing model is also very straightforward, which is a breath of fresh air considering how complicated Lyft and Uber pricing can get.
To start any Lime ride, regardless of time or distance, is $1.00. No matter where you are or when you are using a scooter, you have to pay this $1.00 fee. This fee is charged to your credit card directly through the Lime app.
After the $1.00 start fee, the scooters cost $0.15 per minute. Even if you aren’t moving, you still get charged this per-minute fee. Lime and Bird have the same pricing structure an neither of them charge a Surge or Prime Time rate like Uber or Lyft. At least not yet.
Unlike Uber or Lyft, there’s no mileage fee for Lime scooters. It doesn’t matter if you travel 5 miles or .5 miles, the only thing that matters is how long it takes.
Here are some examples of how much a Lime will cost you:
How Much Does A Lime Scooter Cost Compared to Other Alternatives?
As you can tell, Lime scooters are pretty cheap when you compare them to other transportation alternatives. In this section, we’ll examine how much Lime costs versus some of their competitors.
Lime vs. Bird
This is a tie. These two scooter companies currently use the exact same pricing structure, so there is no difference. Bird offers different promotions for first-time scooter riders, but that’s about it. Lime also offers these type of promotions, which end up helping riders earn free ride credit amounts.
Lime vs. UberX or Lyft
Ride-sharing is probably the biggest competitor to dockless scooters. We used the Uber Fare Estimator to see how much a ride costs in the city of Denver, CO for a base comparison. You can check your city by clicking on the “City Based Fare” tab and entering your location. In Denver, here’s the breakdown of UberX pricing. It’s the exact same for Lyft in this city, so this comparison works for UberX and Lyft.
- BASE FARE: $0.79
- PRICE PER MINUTE: $0.14
- PRICE PER MILE: $1.05
The first thing you’ll notice is that the base fare and price per minute for UberX are actually cheaper than Lime. But the fees don’t stop there, Uber also charges a per mile fee, which quickly makes the service more expensive than renting a scooter.
For instance, let’s assume you’re going on a 4-mile trip in an UberX and it takes you 15 minutes. The price per minute would total $2.10, and your price per mile would be $4.20. After you add in the base fare, the total cost would be $7.09.
One thing to keep in mind is that every city has a different minimum fare for Uber so that cost could be bumped up to the minimum. Another thing to remember is that you should tip your driver on every ride!
Now let’s look at what that same trip would cost on a Lime scooter. First, let’s assume that you average 10 mph on your trip, this is very reasonable considering the top speed is 15 mph.
Going 10 mph, it would take you 24 minutes to travel 4 miles and get to your destination. That means your total cost per minute would be $3.60. Add in the $1.00 rental fee and your total is $4.60.
That’s a total savings of $2.49.
There are advantages to taking an UberX which can make it a cheaper option. First, you can fit up to 4 people in an Uber, if you split this same ride evenly it would come out to $1.77 per person. Another advantage is that you’re in a car, meaning it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or snowing or cold or hot.
In general, it’s safe to say that Lime is cheaper than Uber for a single person. But as soon as you add more people to the equation, UberX will be more competitive.
Lime vs. Driving Your Own Car
Driving a personal vehicle is the most popular commuting option in the United States, but not everyone has a driver’s license or owns their own vehicle. For people without a car, Lime is a great option, is it more expensive than driving? To answer that question, we can rely on the standard mileage rates as defined by the IRS.
The standard mileage rate is “based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile.” The rate takes into effect the cost of gas, vehicle maintenance, insurance, registration, depreciation, and other variables. It does NOT include the cost of a vehicle or car payments. This number is used for people calculating business expenses for driving, but we can use it here as well.
In 2018, the standard mileage rate it 54.5 cents per every mile you drive. That means that if you drive 4 miles, it costs the average person about $2.18.
Going back to our earlier estimate that a 4-mile Lime scooter ride would cost around $4.60, we can deduce that driving your own vehicle would be $2.42 cheaper than riding a scooter.
Other factors that could tilt the scales include parking costs and car payments, two variables that are not figured into the standard mileage rate number.
When it comes to longer distances, driving will almost always be easier. Electric scooters are restricted by their battery life and you can only go so far on a single charge. And if you’re driving on a highway, good luck finding a bike lane for your scooter.
Lime vs. Public Transportation
Now let’s take a look at taking government-funded public transit. The cost of riding the bus is subjective, one newspaper looked at the cost of riding the bus in various cities, and it ranged from $1.25 to $2.60. This price is pretty hard to beat, but there are a lot of downsides to riding a public bus.
The first downside is that you have specified pick up and drop off locations which means you could still spend a lot of time walking once you get dropped off.
Next is that you are at the mercy of the bus scheduled. Anyone who has ever taken the bus knows it’s not always on time and it rarely works well with your schedule.
Finally, the worst part about riding the bus is that it is slow. City buses often make dozens of stops, meaning that if you need to get all the way across the city, you’re going to be making frequent stops.
In general, the city bus is probably the lowest cost option outside of walking or riding your bike. But the many downsides of public transportation have us leaning towards riding a scooter or calling an Uber or Lyft.
Other Lime Scooter Fees
The standard rental fees are the most obvious fees, but Lime does reserve the right to charge you additional fees as outlined in their User Agreement.
The most significant fine comes from vandalism or damaging the product. If Lime determines that you damaged one of their scooters, you can be held responsible for up to “$1,500 for each Lime-S, in Lime’s sole and absolute discretion.”
The fine is very similar if you lose a scooter or if you steal one. Here’s what Lime says about lost of stolen scooters:
“You may be charged up to […] $1,500 for each Lime-S, and a police report may be filed against You. We may also charge a service fee of $25, in Our sole discretion, for rentals in excess of 24 hours where the Product is not considered lost or stolen.”
Another fee that Lime can charge is the “Pick-Up” fee, which can be up to $120. The Pick-Up fee is charged to a Lime user if they park the scooter in a restricted area. For instance, if you take the scooter into your home or garage and lock it there, you will be charged the fee. Or if you lock the scooter behind a fence or on private property.
The reason behind the fee is because the scooters are meant for sharing. If someone makes it impossible for others to find the scooter, it ruins the system for everyone.
Lime also has a separate fee if you “Park or place any Product in a manner that prevents Lime from accessing it. If you violate this Section, Lime may charge you up to $450.” These two fees seem very similar to us, so we’re not 100% sure if you would be charged both fees at the same time. It’s better to be safe than sorry and make sure you park any scooters correctly in public areas.
The next fine outlined by Lime in their User Agreement is implemented if you ride a scooter in a restricted area. Many cities have restricted areas, like pedestrian malls, where the scooters aren’t allowed. If Lime finds out you broke this rule, you could be assessed a fine. As the agreement states: “Lime reserves the right to charge You up to $50, in Lime’s sole and absolute discretion, if You use any of the Products in any restricted areas.
Are Lime Scooters Worth the Cost?
Lime scooters and other scooter rental options are definitely affordable. They’re also super fun to ride and environmentally friendly – two factors which you can’t put a price on.
Compared to taking an Uber, dockless scooters are almost always cheaper if you’re by yourself. If you’re riding with friends, taking an Uber or Lyft will probably save you some money.
Compared to driving your own car or taking the bus, renting a Lime is probably more expensive. But there are other factors which can tilt the scales in favor of Lime. The convenience factor scooter sharing through the Lime app is enough to make us never want to take the bus again.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.