Tampa Must Redo Electric Scooter Contract Bidding Process, Bird Tells Fla. Court

Bird Rides Inc. filed a petition earlier this week in Florida state court, asking the tribunal to force the City of Tampa to restart its e-scooter contractor procurement process because the last one was unfair. The filing accuses Tampa of depriving Bird of procedural due process, failing to observe essential requirements of law, and making a decision unsupported by evidence.

Bird, an electric scooter sharing company, said that it has been operating in Tampa since 2019. Earlier this year, seeking to continue its operations in the city, it submitted a bid in response to Tampa’s request for proposal (RFP). Initially, Bird was shortlisted alongside Spin, Lime, and Helbiz. However, it lost out to Helbiz and Spin who won contracts with the city.

Importantly, Bird says, Tampa did not notify Bird and Lime that they had lost, and Bird says it only received a copy of the award notification from someone else, on the day that bid protests were due. Bird claims that when it explained to Tampa the lack-of-notice issue and requested a five-day extension to file its bid protest, the city denied the request and furthermore did not timely supply Bird with the public records it sought to challenge the decision.

Bird appealed. A city-appointed officer reportedly heard the dispute and decided the appeal in Tampa’s favor. Yet, the filing claims the officer went a step further and ruled that Bird “waived any arguments not raised in the bid protest, even those arguments that Bird could not have raised at the time.”

The e-scooter petitioner argues that the officer’s decision “flies in the face of basic principles of due process and is directly contrary to Florida law.” Bird also remarks that the record before the hearing officer clearly militated a reversal of Tampa’s decision on the bid protest.

“While Bird has raised a number of reasons why the RFP process failed, any one of these would be enough to render the RFP process arbitrary and capricious,” the filing says. For relief, Bird asks the court to quash the hearing officer’s denial and to compel Tampa to recompete the procurement.

Bird is represented by Akerman LLP.