The US-based micromobility start-up Lime has started offering electric scooters for rent in Sofia, one of the most polluted cities in the European Union, becoming the first such company to operate in the Bulgarian capital.
According to city officials, two more companies have expressed their interest in providing the same service with e-scooters for Sofia residents. The fee for unlocking an e-scooter is BGN 1.50 (about EUR 0.77), while BGN 0.30 (about EUR 0.15) is charged for every minute of ride.
The Bulgarian capital has launched its inaugural fleet of Lime e-scooters, joining the likes of Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Warsaw, Brussels, Athens, Lisbon, and Bucharest, Lime said on its website.
In the runup to the 150-scooter rollout, city leaders worked hand in hand with Lime to proactively address issues such as safety and parking.
“More and more people are looking for an alternative to car travel, and it’s important to keep it safe. Sofia is one of the first cities in the world to designate special parking spaces for shared vehicles prior to their entry. We have started setting up about 200 parking locations for bicycles, scooters and mopeds,” said Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.
“Lime is working together with the municipality to bring a fun, smart and convenient solution to some of the city’s challenges. We’d like to encourage the citizens of Sofia to park their cars and get to their destination faster and more sustainably with an e-scooter,” said Operations Manager Tamás Tóth.
The municipality’s Green Sofia Project has also prepared a public Memorandum of Understanding, designed to educate scooter riders on the rules of safe micromobility use. Lime will be reinforcing this message by hosting First Ride safety events around the city, giving Sofia residents the opportunity to test ride the scooters and get a free helmet.
One of the most polluted cities in the EU
Lime noted that the launch of electric scooters in Sofia represents a significant paradigm shift for a city that is one of the most polluted in the whole of EU. There are between 550-600 cars for every 1,000 inhabitants in the Bulgarian capital, and half of them are more than 20 years old.
In October 2018, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Green Energy Special Fund (GESF) approved a EUR 7.35 million loan to Sofia Electrical Transport Company (SETC) for the first phase of the modernization of Sofia’s bus fleet through the acquisition of up to 15 low-floor electric buses.