As controversy swirls about how the City of Atlanta should regulate dockless mobility devices, an e-scooter company fresh on the scene is already packing up and leaving town.
Officials with Gotcha, which launched in June with 500 e-scooters licensed, and now 100 on the streets, told Curbed Atlanta on Thursday they plan to “suspend the operation of our scooters” in the city.
It’s the first e-scooter operator to bow out in Atlanta’s crowded but lucrative market.
Gotcha spokeswoman Caroline Passe did not address whether the decision to leave was related to recent e-scooter-related fatalities, or Atlanta lawmakers’ difficulty in figuring out how to handle the new dockless mobility device craze.
Instead, Passe said, Gotcha wants to operate in markets where it doesn’t have any competition, and Atlanta's is rather saturated. Right now, 12,000 rentable vehicles are permitted here—more than enough for every resident of both Grant Park and Cabbagetown to be cruising at the same time.
“We have more of an impact on the city or university when we have an exclusive partnership in place, so we’re focusing more on exclusivity in markets,” she said in an email.
“While we aim to offer these [mobility] solutions in as many places as possible, we can’t do it all,” Passe continued. “We need to focus our resources on cities where we can make a more effective and lasting impact.”
The company’s choice to duck town comes on the heels of metro Atlanta witnessing its fourth e-scooter death.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms recently issued an executive order that relieves the city's planning department of its authority to permit new devices. She also barred e-scooter operators from making devices accessible between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., when most e-scooter rider deaths have occurred.
Gotcha is the first e-scooter operator to jump ship since Bird introduced the concept to Atlanta in May 2018.
China-based bike-share company ofo pulled out of the city a year ago, and the company donated its rides to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.