Electric scooters are coming back to Utah County; the three-month COVID-19 hiatus brought big changes and upgrades to the popular transportation choice in Provo along with new scooter companies in Provo, Orem and Lehi.
“It wasn’t even a year ago we celebrated the community launch of 500 scooters, but safety concerns with COVID-19 required their removal,” said Mayor Michelle Kaufusi in a press release. “We are happy to announce they are officially back on the road — but with safety protocols in place.”
The new scooters are provided by LINK. Zagster, the original provider, was purchased by Superpedestrian who makes LINK.
Superpedestrian is a mobility engineering and technology company founded by urban transport experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technolgy (MIT). They announced the Thursday launch of LINK, its new shared micromobility division.
LINK allows riders in Provo to rent Superpedestrian’s e-scooters using a smartphone.
Superpedestrian’s expansion into the shared micromobility space is fueled by the acquisition of Zagster’s scooter business and an investment of $15 million led by growth equity investor Edison Partners, with additional funds from existing investors Spark Capital and General Catalyst, according to a LINK press statement.
“The scooter share program proved quite popular in Provo with most scooters being ridden three times daily,” said Nicole Martin, communications manager at Provo City. “From Aug. 19 to Dec. 31, the scooter fleet racked up 85,509 rides. The good news on the other side of the math is that those numbers represent a reduction of 28,217 car trips, 15,802 vehicle miles traveled, and 3,104 pounds of CO2 pollution.”
The company will start out with about 200 scooters and build up through the summer and fall to about 500 throughout Provo. However, they are still not allowed on the Brigham Young University campus.
“Our trial scooter share program was intended to add a micro-mobility option to our comprehensive multi-modal city transportation plan, all designed to manage traffic congestion as we grow and develop as a city,” said Kaufusi. “Scooters and bikes have emerged as a popular mode of transportation among students and commuters who use them as last mile transportation from bus stops or train stations.”
The new LINK scooters are a technological step above scooters previously used by Provo. Superpedestrian has combined technology from the world-renowned Copenhagen Wheel. Likewise, Zagster brings operational sophistication gained from a decade of experience managing bike and scooter share systems, the press release said.
Residents wanting to use the scooters should be advised that each scooter is disinfected between each ride and will not start until it had been treated and sanitized.
Scooters are being constantly updated, cleaned and moved by the management crew throughout the city.
Lime, the global leader in shared micromobility, launched their scooters in Orem and Lehi on Thursday to provide residents with safe, single-rider, socially distant transportation options as the state emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.
“Lime is excited to launch our first markets in Utah County and expand operations throughout the state,” a press statement said.
Lime is now operational in seven Utah cities, the most of any micromobility company.
Riders can find scooters throughout these cities via the Lime app. In addition to scooter deployments throughout the cities, scooters will also serve the Orem, Lehi/Thanksgiving Point, South Jordan and Draper FrontRunner stations, according to the press release.
According to Lime, about one-third of Utah scooter users say they would drive or take rideshare if a scooter wasn’t available, and 50% of Utah Lime users have used scooters to connect to public transit (UTA bus, TRAX or FrontRunner) in the month previous to the survey.
“We are very excited to see Lime Scooters coming to Lehi,” said Kim Struthers, Community Development director. “We see the scooters as a great opportunity to bridge the first-last mile of commuter trips in the Thanksgiving Point area. This will make it more convenient for people who use Frontrunner to commute to work. It will also give people a way to get around the area for lunch and other short trips without having to use their cars. It’s a step in the right direction to reducing travel demand and congestion in that area.”
Like LINK, Lime is taking extra precautions in keeping scooters clean and sanitized. Lime asks riders to keep in mind the following for social distance safety:
• Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer which is at least 60% alcohol-based when you arrive at your final destination. Wear gloves when you can.
• Ride solo for safety and social distancing; maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.