RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dockless electric scooters have become a popular way to get from here to there in cities around the country. But in Richmond, the e-scooters also have become a popular target for vandals.
Bolt Mobility —the company that owns scooters introduced in Richmond over the last month — says that about one in four have been vandalized.
The company told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that some people are snapping the scooters in half. Others are tossing them into the James River or lighting them on fire.
The Florida-based company was the first recipient of a city permit under a new pilot program.
The scooters have been introduced in cities around the country as an alternative to ride-hailing services for people looking to travel short distances. Riders can download a smartphone app, locate a scooter and pay 25 cents per minute to ride.
"We're not meeting the demand (for the scooters) because we're having these kinds of challenges," said Will Nicholas, the company's executive vice president for operations.
Nicholas said Richmond riders have logged 26,600 rides since the company's launch in early June. He said that figure is comparable to some larger Bolt markets, including Chicago and Miami.
Bolt paid the city about $45,000 for permission to roll out 500 scooters. So far, it has put out about 370. Of those, riders have vandalized 107.
Under the terms and conditions riders agree to, Bolt can fine someone up to $600 for a lost or damaged scooter by charging the credit or debit card on file with the smartphone app.
Nicholas said the company hasn't taken that step yet, but plans to begin levying smaller fines and working with Richmond police to prosecute people who break or vandalize the scooters.