Why Is Downtown Phoenix Scooter Ridership Lower Than Other Cities?

By Christina Estes
Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2020 - 6:05am

man riding scooter
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A man rides a scooter in downtown Phoenix on Sept. 16, 2019.

After four months of a pilot program, an electronic scooter company says ridership is lower in downtown Phoenix compared to other cities.

Ryan Mores, Phoenix operations manager for Lime, told the transportation subcommittee Tuesday that the city’s geofencing technology requirement is a significant obstacle. The technology stops and slows scooters when they enter no-ride zones.

“Riders often become frustrated with the technology because they can’t start or end their ride or they don’t like the fact that it’s slowing down in a slow zone, etc. and they get discouraged from riding scooters as often as they otherwise would,” he said.

But committee members like the technology because it prevents scooters from cluttering neighborhoods and sidewalks and requires scooters be parked and deployed in designated areas only. 

On average, each scooter operated by Lime and Spin, is used twice a day. Mores said in other cities their scooters average three trips per day. He said another challenge is Phoenix’s nightly requirement that operators  remove all scooters from designated corrals by midnight and return them at 5 a.m. 

“This typically requires that we start removing the scooters starting around  10 p.m. and begin deploying them again around 5 a.m., sometimes taking until 7 a.m. or later to complete deployment,” he said.

parked scooters
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Spin deployed scooters as part of the downtown Phoenix program on Sept. 16, 2019.

Subcommittee members said they’re open to allowing companies to leave scooters in corrals overnight as long as they’re locked and inoperable until 5 a.m. 

Tim Alborg, a spokesperson for Spin, told the subcommittee they want to establish charging stations at three designated parking locations. “These charging stations can decrease VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and carbon emissions from our delivery vehicles when parking and charging infrastructure is installed in collaboration with our city partners.”

The Street Transportation Department, which oversees the program, will discuss making changes for the remaining two months with Councilman Michael Nowakowski and Councilmember Carlos Garcia since their districts fall within the pilot program boundaries. The six-month program ends March 16, 2020. The full city council will decide whether to continue, modify or expand the program.

E-scooters have a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour and cannot be used on sidewalks and must stay between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street from McDowell to Buckeye roads

3-Month Pilot Program Highlights

  • • 4,435 trips per week.
  • • 2 trips per scooter per day.
  • • Average 7 minutes per scooter trip. 
  • • Average 1 mile per trip.
  • • 5 reported scooter related incidents and injuries, including two involving vehicles. 

Source: City of Phoenix

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