How do you get to SMC and around Santa Monica? Have you ever rented an eScooter from Lime or Bird? Did you ever wonder who keeps the things running? Who charges them? Who keeps them running after they get bashed around the streets of Santa Monica?
When the eScooter tsunami crashed on the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice last year it seemed like "The Scooter Keepers" were mostly freelancers, people who surfed the bike trail between Santa Monica and Venice collecting scooters for vendors like Lime, Bird, and Spin, and recharging them for $5 a scooter. Today, in addition to those early scooter labels, millennial transportation darlings Uber and Lyft have also joined the game. While the early players still use freelancers, Uber & Lyft run full-time operations with employees driving vans around to collect scooters in need of charging or other service.
Every day "Scooter Keepers" from 19 to 61 and probably beyond cruise Santa Monica and Venice collecting eScooters in need of charging or repair. For an employee like Lyft’s Michael Jones it’s a full-time job with a shift from 3 pm – 11 pm. For a freelancer like Lime’s Alex, it’s work when he feels like it and pay based on how many eScooters he takes home to charge. Lime pays Alex $5 for each eScooter he finds, takes home, charges, and returns to the street. Alex stopped collecting Bird eScooters when they lowered the pay from $5/eScooter to $3/eScooter.
Alex cruises the Venice Beach Boardwalk on a skateboard and uses a GPS-enabled mobile app to find Lime eScooters that need charging. Lyft’s Jones, and Uber employees Javaun Bruins and and Kegauna Brown have big vans to drive around in and collect eScooters, but like Alex, they still have to hunt around with GPS apps.