The phases of de-escalation in Spain are already in full swing, not without controversy. At the entrance of Phase 1 to leave the confinement after a few days with permission to go for a walk at the agreed times, some municipalities have prepared the opening of green areas. Specifically in Madrid, and with a view to the weekend, this measure has already been agreed. But what does not yet have an arrival date are the electric scooters. Those are still outside the peculiar stamp of the capital, and have no arrival date.
Only models for personal use. Those are the only electric scooters that have been seen in Madrid these first days of freedom.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began and the obligation to confine oneself to homes, all the companies with shared mobility have been announcing their temporary withdrawal from service due to hygiene and health issues. Also due to the fall in demand from a public that was no longer allowed to circulate on the street. From the cars, some of them dedicated to the transport of health personnel, passing through motorcycles, bikes and, finally, scooters. They have all disappeared.
The first to return were the BiciMad bikes, managed by the Madrid City Council. Available since April 22, the public service has tripled its use since the beginning of Phase 0. With the obligatory use of gloves for use, in addition to their daily disinfection, public bikes are one of the few active shared services.
Scooters: a matter of permits
Many wonder the reason for the absence of electric scooters on the streets. It is now, in fact, with the reduction of traffic on the roads when the best conditions of use are given.
From the City Council they have the answer. It is a service that requires municipal permits to operate in Madrid –the famous licenses–, so with the coronavirus crisis these permits are frozen until further notice. “Right now there are a thousand fronts open in the mobility area of the City Council, so it is not yet clear when the service can be resumed,” they explain to * Hipertextual from the consistory.
Thus, 4,821 licenses are currently locked pending an approval. And behind them are the companies that continue to operate in the capital – declining even before the pandemic in a dance of casualties, mergers and purchases – that are waiting for any change.
For the moment, the giant Lime – which has lost most of its international team to cut costs – with more than 700 licenses in the capital are still waiting. And working on his own hygiene protocol. From the City Council confirm, at that point, that no common protocol is being created for this type of mobility beyond the general advice, and they cannot advance anything in this area either.
Flash stayed on the road due to problems in the matrix and Bird was already resuming his activity with small steps; So much the same with Cabify’s scooter version. Mygo, now converted to Wheels after the purchase by the American at the beginning of the year, does not give more data than what is seen when entering its application: out of service indefinitely.
On the part of Jump, Uber’s scooter business division, they explain that they are waiting for what the City Council says, although there is no news of them to date. Although they do not hesitate to make comparisons: in Rome the use of scooters has been active since the beginning of the pandemic as it is considered an essential transport model and in Paris it is allowed for use by health personnel.
Around with electric cars
Although it is true that the activity of scooters depends directly on permits that must be activated at some point, the rest of the mobility services that do not have a Consistory license could well be starting their own de-escalation. They also do not have a common protocol for hygiene stockings, so
The reality is that in the field of vehicles there is no news, or at least no signs, that they are starting up again. On the part of Emov, belonging to Free2Move, they only indicate that they are preparing the return but without more data. A similar situation affects Car2Go and Zity
“Waiting to see how the situation evolves” is the common response, and in this case from Wible, but that marks a background to the current situation.
Although hygiene protocols are essential to avoid contagion at this time, but it is the profitability problems that concern the shared vehicle sector. “The balance between the operationally viable, economically sustainable”, they explain from Wible.
Because the sector, which was already in the red before the pandemic crisis, the low influx of users still at home despite the opening of the unconfinement phases does not offset the costs of personnel, maintenance and infrastructure. To which are now added hygiene costs.
ECooltra motorcycles in the Campo de las Naciones area (Madrid)
And the bikes came on the scene
While the scooters wait their turn at the City Hall, and the cars are struggling between costs and hygiene measures, in the shared motorcycle sector some are already playing guinea pigs. The rest prefer to wait to see what happens.
Acciona and eCooltra are kept in a discreet background. In fact, the latter has all its models parked in the north of Madrid (white zone) waiting for the service to be viable, as is the case for cars.
For his part, Movo –belonging to Cabify–, already announced his return to the ring on April 30 in Madrid and Barcelona just to take advantage of the first impulses of the de-escalation. Without the need for public permits, their only effort at this time is to maintain the prevailing hygiene measures. Cleanings, as explained by Movo, are carried out up to three times a day with a minimum of one disinfection for each vehicle. With an increasing circulation on the roads and currently without competition on the streets, they are the only ones that to date have decided to risk providing the service.