Electric Scooters Hit Santa Ana, But Students Aren’t Using Them

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Bird and Lime scooters launched in Santa Ana as part of a 3-month-long pilot program. Aron Hernandez / el Don

Flocks of Birds and bunches of Limes are a common sight on street corners near campus, but many students still don’t know how to use them.

Both companies launched with the city’s 90-day e-scooter pilot program, which was approved Dec. 18. The plan was to determine if the scooters would be an effective means of transportation for residents.

“We’re working to put a long-term program in place but we’re waiting to get direction from management, [and] from our city council…and we’re working on what the next steps might be,” Cory Wilkerson, active transportation coordinator for Santa Ana, said.

Lime deployed 250 scooters throughout the city during the pilot program and plans to eventually double that number to 500, company officials said.

Despite the prevalence of scooters in downtown and along major Santa Ana streets since the new year, the onboarding process as well as the rules surrounding their use remain confusing to students.

“With a scooter, I don’t know how far I can go with it, and what the limits are to using it,” fourth-year Santa Ana College student Jose Andrade said.

State law mandates that riders must be 18 years old and hold a valid driver’s license. The apps needed to find and ride the scooters also require users to have a credit card on file.

Bird and Lime have different on-boarding processes, however. Lime has fewer steps than Bird and does not require a person to scan their a driver’s license in order to ride. Bird makes a photo of the rider’s drivers license mandatory.

Some students are finding ways to incorporate the scooters into their commute.

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Sophomore Jesus Vazquez, used to take an Uber to and from school, but found that scooters are cheaper for his route.

He said he spends about $4 for his mile-and-a-half trip on Lime. An Uber for the same distance would cost about $1 more.  

Limes cost 15 cents per minute to ride versus Bird’s 23 cents per minute. On average, a one mile trip on Lime (about the distance from Santa Ana College to Downtown Santa Ana) would cost about $3 on Lime and take about four-minutes on a scooter.

That same four-minute trip on a Bird scooter would cost about 32 cents more.

Other students find the scooters to be an inconvenience. Sophomore Alexis Ramos walked past a scooter hub next to the Starbucks across from campus on a recent afternoon where scooters were left lying around, knocked down and obstructing the walkway.

“It’s not appealing, because they are just everywhere. It’s better in a recreational area,” Ramos said.

2 Comments

  • I don’t think they are a good idea. If students don’t use them, who will?

  • Dang I loved those scooters, right at the end of their deal with the city everyone was just barely starting to get into them. Hopefully they come back and I’ll bet they see different results.

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