MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -After about a one-year pilot phase, the City of Memphis says it’s ready for more electric scooters. This week, the city announced an expansion of its Shared Mobility Program.
"We will now be welcoming five operators in total, including Bird, Lime, Spin, Bolt and also, of course, Explore Bike Share,” said Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager Nicholas Oyler.
City officials say the pilot program was a learning experience and helped establish plans moving forward.
"Part of the goal of the program is to provide an option that’s easier for people to leave their car at home or to give up a car entirely,” said Oyler.
Spin e-scooters launched in Memphis this week. Operations Manager Dan Shoman says by the end of the week there should be 150 scooters out on the streets. The company has plans to eventually roll out 500 scooters.
"We have all of the maps for where we can’t ride. We have all the maps for where the scooters have to slow down and all of those are already in our system,” said Shoman who also oversees operations in Nashville.
WMC Action News 5 spoke to some residents who are happy to hear more scooters are coming to the Bluff City.
"I get to see Downtown and riding it I get to see it all at one time,” said Tonya Brown.
Other residents told WMC they hope things just go smoothly with all the companies.
"[It’s] the price of progress. We’ll all get used to them just be respectful. Try not to be a jerk and things will be okay,” said Memphis resident Daniel Curtain.
The city says to ensure things go well they’ve established rules with the companies.
"We're requiring that all these operators send data to the city in a real-time basis so we can actually go in and see where each scooter currently is, where it's parked, are they going places where they're not supposed to be,” said Oyler.
Each operator has a limited number of scooters it can deploy. The money made by the city from company fees, which is estimated at half a million dollars, will be put back into the program. Permits will be renewed on an annual basis.
"We'll be able to look back on their experience. Their behavior as a company over the last 12 months and if there's something we didn't like we can certainly just choose not to renew that permit,” said Oyler.
The overall cap for shared mobility devices will be around 3,300. Scooters will make up 60% to 70% of the total and the rest will be bicycles.
"I don't look at it as a concern. We're all out here to serve the public and make sure that people can get around,” said Shoman.
Fees collected by the city will go towards safety and educational programs as well as bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements like designated parking areas.
A spokesperson with Bolt sent WMC Action News 5 the following statement:
Bolt is excited to enter the city of Memphis with more than 200 carbon-free, battery swappable e-scooters in early August. Memphis is a thriving urban environment and we are confident that residents and visitors will greatly benefit from safe, sustainable, and affordable transportation solutions. Bolt scooters alleviate congestion, reduce environmental damage caused by fossil fuel emissions, and make transportation equitable to all.
Attribution: Will Nicholas, President of Operations at Bolt Mobility
WMC also reached out to all scooter companies. A representative from Lime sent us an email that read in part, “…we remain committed to serving the residents of Memphis with reliable, affordable and sustainable transportation options.”