Scooter program zooms into fifth month

Since June, orange and black scooters have zipped through Gainesville as part of the city’s pilot micromobility program and conducted just over 85,000 trips as of Oct. 12.

The scooters function as an alternative, low carbon means of transportation, aimed at reducing traffic congestion and after a few months in operation, data shows how citizens are putting the scooters to use.

Since the UF fall semester started in August, Gainesville has averaged 820 scooter trips per day with the city netting 15 cents each.

Gainesville has earned over $10,000 just from the per ride fee since the program started.

John Finnerty, the city’s micromobility program coordinator, said the money helps staff the pilot program and cover signage and material costs.

In an email to Mainstreet Daily News, he said most of the scooter traffic centers on the UF campus, Depot Park, downtown, the innovation district and College Park and 5th Ave.

Finnerty said more rides are taken during the week than on the weekend―a reflection, he believes, of the high usage by UF students.

The city is still looking to improve the system. Finnerty said the city is searching for spots in the high traffic areas to use for scooter parking and plans to make the changes in the spring.

“We are pleased individuals are choosing a sustainable transportation alternative, and hope every e-scooter rider wears a helmet and operates it safely,” Finnerty said.

The one year pilot program started in June and contracts with three scooter companies―VEO, Bird and Spin―that provide a portion of Gainesville’s total scooter needs. 

Carol Antunez, VEO’s policy and partnerships manager for the East Coast, said the company has been pleasantly surprised with the situation in the Gainesville market. 

“We’re super excited to be part of the Gainesville mobility system,” Antunez said in an interview. “We feel like the program has been doing really great.” 

VEO has 200 scooters in Gainesville and Antunez said the company has seen thousands of people joining the mobility program for every type of need, from travelling to classes or stores, exploring the city or riding toward the Swamp on game day. 

Home games provide a boost for the company with an increase in ridership, but there’s also other challenges that VEO works with UF to work around. 

Antunez noted that a lot of the regulations in place are changeable. While UF and the scooter vendors have established rules for “slow zones”, special events and parking, a lot of these parameters can be changed to adapt to future needs. 

“Every market is different, but when we think of Gainesville we’re very happy with how the system is running, and I think everyday we just want to get better in making sure that our system is truly useful,” Antunez said.

A discussion of micromobility parking was scheduled for the Gainesville City Commission last week before being pulled, but the commission will likely talk about the program and parking at an upcoming meeting.

Fast Facts:

  • Gainesville earns 15 cents per ride.
  • The average ride lasts 7.9 minutes and covers 1.1 miles.
  • Average of 820 trips per day since UF fall classes started in August.
  • More than 85,000 total trips.
  • The city garnered more than $10,000 in per ride earnings from the launch in June through mid-October.
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