Three U.S. cities, a major scootershare company, and a micro-mobility platform developer announced a pilot program to address the challenges of last-mile urban transportation options. Micro-mobility platform developer Passport and electric scooter company Lime partnered with city officials in Charlotte, North Carolina; Detroit, Michigan; and Omaha, Nebraska for the pilots.
The collaboration was formed to create a viable framework for managing scooters in urban areas. The joint study seeks a structure that would work for all parties involved while meeting city goals to reduce congestion, improve pedestrian safety, and enhance transportation options in currently underserved areas.
Parking fees are part of the solution. Based on data from the pilot programs, Passport will use predictive analytics to design pricing models based on supply and demand to control scooter distribution. For example, scooter parking charges would be higher in lucrative city centers and lower to nonexistent in less-profitable areas where residents have few affordable transportation choices.
When fleets of electric scooters began showing up in U.S. cities in 2018 without prior notice, municipal officials were less than pleased. One day there were no scooters, and the next day hundreds of scooters appeared in packs on sidewalks, ready for ridesharing.
The “launch first, apologize next, get permits later” market entry strategy got attention from tickled riders and enthusiastic venture capitalists. City officials, on the other hand, pushed back in various ways. San Francisco banned electric 2-wheelers without permits. Indianapolis issued a cease-and-desist order. Nashville impounded any scooters found in a public right of way.
While individual municipalities found their ways to react to the unexpected scooter onslaughts, they shared common problems with vehicle congestion, parking shortages, pedestrian safety, and sufficient transportation options for visitors and residents.
The Passport-driven collaborative pilot programs aren’t exclusive to scooter-sharing. When other new mobility solutions appear, the groundwork by the Passport pilot, if not utilized directly, can serve as a model for stakeholders working together to improve transportation.
“While our relationships with these cities began with mobile payments for parking, permits, and enforcement, it soon became apparent that there was much more we could do together to improve urban mobility in each city,” said Passport CEO Bob Youakim. “We will continue to help each city define their needs for curb management, be it through the management of scooters, first/last mile services or the integration of new connected technologies that create a seamless relationship between city officials and residents.”
The Passport pilot program isn’t the first time an infrastructure software company has worked with scootershare companies. In 2018, Google Maps partnered with Lime to show locations of Lime scooters, pedal bikes, and electric bicycles on maps.
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