7 months on, St. George’s e-scooter rental program a success, city officials say

St. George Mayor Jon Pike takes the inaugural ride on an e-scooter during a launch event on the Dixie State University campus, St. George, Utah, March 7, 2019 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A fleet of app-accessible electric scooters that rolled out in St. George nearly seven months ago has proven more successful than city officials first anticipated.

What began with a fleet of 100 scooters, scattered for rent at approximately 30 locations around town, has quickly expanded to 400.

Marc Mortensen, director of support services, said if the demand increases, the city has authorized an additional 200 scooters to join the fleet.

The program has created synergy through a partnership between the city, Spin – an electric scooter company owned by Ford Motor Company – and Boston-based Zagster, the entity that provides fleet management and maintenance, as well as involvement in the city’s bike-share program.

“As you read articles throughout the country, you’ve heard the horror stories in some cities about their scooter programs, and our experience has been entirely different,” Mortensen said. “I think a lot of the success has to do with the partnerships we’ve developed.”

Mortensen credits the success of the program with how well all of the partners involved have worked together in bringing the e-scooter program to St. George.

Spin electronic scooters parked on a city street, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Spin, St. George News

Shortly after launch, ridership outpaced expectations, averaging 18,000 trips a month, Mortensen added.

According to the San Francisco-based Spin, there have been more than 100,000 trips on an e-scooter in St. George, averaging just over 11 minutes per ride and 2.3 miles in distance.

One of the largest demographics using the scooters are students attending Dixie State University.

“Visually, and based on my personal observations, I do see students on scooters all the time, as well as faculty,” said Stacy Schmidt, public relations coordinator at Dixie State. “Faculty often will grab a scooter if we need to get from one building to another, so it’s actually more widespread than just student use.”

“They have definitely elevated our ability to get around on campus,” Schmidt said. “Even though we are a small campus, it’s a nice value add to have them here.”

Although ridership has declined somewhat during the summer because of the relatively hot weather and fluctuating student usage, it was something city officials anticipated.

“We suspect the numbers will rise with the beautiful weather we are having, going into our heavy tourist season and school back in session,” Mortensen said.

Another large segment of ridership is from tourists visiting St. George.

Spin e-scooter launch event on the Dixie State University campus, St. George, Utah, March 7, 2019 | File photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

“A lot of people visiting larger cities expect to find a scooter, and many tourists are pleasantly surprised that we have them here,” Mortensen said. “We’ve seen entire families on the trail system … as well as riding throughout our entire city.”

The scooters have GPS capability that allows the city to track where and how they are being used.

“One of the great things about this program is we can generate data that we can use,” Mortensen said. “We can use the data to know where people are riding, and we can make spot improvements for active transportation not only for the scooters but for bicycles and pedestrians.”

Phil LeClare, Zagster’s head of public relations agrees the partnership has been a win-win for everyone.

“At eye level, we are really pleased with the adoption of St. George, in fact since (March) we’ve rolled out programs in Provo and recently in Orem based largely on the success we are seeing in St. George,” LeClare said. “Things are going really well.”

While the specifics of the data information are proprietary to Spin, city officials said the heaviest scooter traffic is between Bluff Street and River Road, Diagonal Street to 700 South and throughout the entirety of the trail system.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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