Bird scooters introduced a new service on Tuesday it's calling "monthly personal rentals." The idea is to sign people up for $25 monthly plans and they can scoot all they want during that time. The company will just drop off a scooter wherever you are and then pick it back up when you're done.
"Renting a Bird for an entire month of unlimited use will cost less than just a couple of ride hail trips or parking garage days in most cities," Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. "With personal rentals, we are providing greater access to a sustainable form of transportation that people can depend upon for more affordable and convenient daily commuting needs."
Bird didn't clarify exactly how the system works, however, and just how sustainable it is. It's unclear if the scooters are delivered and picked up on an hourly, daily or monthly basis -- or if users are supposed to hang onto the scooters as long as they have the monthly subscription plan.
"As the amount of time people spend in their car commuting increases around the world, so does the amount of carbon emissions polluting our planet," the company wrote in a statement. "Personal rentals offers commuters the ability to exchange the daily trudge that has become all too common -- losing hours every week sitting idle in traffic, day in and day out -- with a more reliable and sustainable alternative."
Initially, Bird is rolling out its new service in San Francisco and Barcelona -- both cities that don't currently have its normal dockless scooter rentals.
San Francisco temporarily banned Bird after it unloaded thousands of its scooters around the city without permission in March 2018. And Barcelona cracked down on the vehicles, forbidding people from riding them on sidewalks and in certain parts of the city, after a pedestrian was struck and killed by a scooter rider in November.
Bird appears to be working around these restrictions with its personal rentals plan. Instead of having the dockless scooters on street corners across the city, it's treating the vehicles as personal items. When someone who's paying for the monthly plan opens the Bird app, they enter when and where they want the scooter. Once the order is placed, Bird will arrange for their scooter, charger and lock to be delivered. When the rental period expires, Bird said it will pick up everything up from the user's location.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Bird didn't first clear its new service with the agency.
"We learned about this new program today and are going to get more details to determine whether or not it complies with existing regulations," agency spokesman Paul Rose told CNET.
Bird said its monthly plans will be available in San Francisco and Barcelona in coming weeks and it'll add additional cities in coming months. It's also created a wait list for other cities that want to opt into the program.
Originally published April 30, 6 a.m. PT.
Update, 6 p.m.: Adds comment from San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose.