The Bird scooter service that took Bakersfield by storm in December is adjusting its local fleet in a way that appears to have reduced, at least temporarily, the number of vehicles available for use.
After local users of the service reported a substantial decline in the number of scooters showing up on the company's smartphone app, the Santa Monica-based company stated by email Monday afternoon it had made a change but has no plans to leave the city.
"Bird is making routine updates to our fleet to ensure we continue to provide a quality service to the people of Bakersfield," read a statement attributed to an unnamed company spokesperson. "We have no plans of leaving the city and remain committed to being an important part of the community's transportation network. We are grateful to the people of Bakersfield who continue to rely on Bird as a way to get around town without having to get in a car."
The spokesperson who sent the email declined to elaborate or grant a phone interview.
Assistant City Manager Steve Teglia said by email a Bird representative he spoke with by phone Monday told him the company is not leaving the city but that "they are facilitating some operational adjustments which may be impacting the current release today."
Hours later, City Manager Alan Tandy said he had no clarity on what those adjustments entail.
When Bird landed in Bakersfield five months ago, it put about 200 of its scooters on city streets.
Recent company data show more than 8,000 people have taken the scooters for a ride 24,565 times in Bakersfield.
Residents have said ridership seemed to have declined after an initial surge in use. Company data show ridership was concentrated in downtown and the area around Cal State Bakersfield.
A mechanic associated with the company told BTUFF Magazine people have vandalized many of the scooters, dismantling some and dumping others in local waterways.
Bird declined to make anyone available to address questions about local instances of vandalism.