Shortly after Budapest’s most frequented sites have become empty, the app-based Lime electric scooters also disappeared from the Hungarian capital. The changes surprised several users in Budapest who had not been notified previously.
Lime eliminated e-scooters from the capital on 19th March. However, users were not notified about the action and no announcement was issued in Hungary. According to the information provided on their website – to reflect public health guidance, the company pauses its service in all of its markets, except for South Korea.
This has surprised several users who had previously bought a season ticket to travel by electric scooter instead of public transport; these consumers have lost their money.
Furthermore, the service is provided by a Dutch company without any local presence. Therefore, it is particularly inconvenient to argue with the company about the breach of domestic law.
The two largest e-scooter companies are present in 220 cities in the United States and several European countries. Even though exact figures are not provided, Lime can have about 120,000 scooters that are all stopped by now, just like in the case of Bird company. Still, it is doubtful how many of them will ever restart.
As a result of the collapsing demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the largest e-scooter companies stopped their operation in almost every city by the end of March. In Budapest, e-scooters of Lime’s domestic competitor, Breezy, also disappeared from the streets.
The pandemic had a beneficial effect on certain cycling companies such as Mol Bubi, as many people prefer travelling by bike instead of public transport. Similarly, this could also have increased the demand for e-rollers. However, these – especially in Budapest – were mainly used by foreigners and tourists; as a result of the tourism decline, the need for electric scooters also collapsed. This perfectly shows that even though sharing-based e-scooters can also play an important role in micro-mobility, they are basically used as sightseeing tools by tourists who do not want to walk.
As the Hungarian news portal g7 reports, the companies’ chance of survival is also reduced by the fact that they operate on the verge of legality. There are clear regulations concerning tax payment – no matter what kind of equipment is rented, VAT must be paid, and an invoice must be issued. Still, according to the news portal, this was not realised in their case.