ST. GEORGE — For electronic scooter aficionados who have missed the alternative mode of transportation on St. George’s city streets, the good news is that they are back.
What started out in March 2019 as a successful introduction of e-scooter rentals in St. George turned to disappointment one year later when Boston-based Zagster, the company that managed the scooter fleet in Southern Utah, did not renew its contract with the e-scooter company, Spin, a unit of Ford Motor Company.
Spin had provided more than 200 scooters to St. George, with Zagster picking up the management and maintenance duties.
When the contract between the two companies ended in 2020, the result was the removal of the scooter fleet.
Savvy e-scooter riders would have noticed Friday that things have changed as scores of the bright orange two-wheel rides began their deployment downtown.
“Wow, way too much fun,” said Thomas Rigel, visiting Southern Utah on Saturday with his family of six from Klamath Falls, Oregon. “The scooters were such a great way to get around town. They were easy to rent, easy to ride and I’m not sure my family would have made it to McDonald’s for lunch if we had been walking. My littlest, Thomas Jr. (9) thought it was like flying on a magic carpet.”
The official relaunch was Monday when Spin rolled out more than a baker’s dozen scooters for a targeted ridership demographic of students at Dixie State University.
The relaunch was an opportunity for students to get reacquainted with the ride that offers a top speed of 15 mph.
“It’s really fun,” said Vlad Simillien, Dixie State sophomore with a grin and a laugh. “It’s fun to feel the wind in your face and being able to go really fast. It’s really a cool ride.”
Simillien along with Tasha Campbell, another DSU student, loves the ride and plans to use them to get around.
“I’ve ridden the scooters before and they are pretty fun,” Campbell said. “It’s pretty fun to be able to go so fast.”
The city and San Francisco-based Spin have agreed to a two-year contract, with three one-year renewals possible. At the outset, Spin will provide between 200 and 250 scooters with increases based on demand.
Demand shouldn’t be a problem, city officials say.
In one year operating in St. George, more than 124,000 scooter rides were taken with an average of 21 minutes per trip.
In less than one week of coming back, the response has matched the initial launch in 2019, said Marc Mortensen, St. George director of support services.
“It’s been interesting that almost 1,000 people have downloaded the Spin app (used for rental) in St. George even before they hit the ground,” Mortensen said. “A few of the things that we are hearing from people during the past few days is that they enjoy the ride over the older scooters.”
The third-generation version of the Spin e-scooter features air-filled tires for a smoother ride over previous models and a larger platform for added stability.
The cost to access Spin scooters is $1 to unlock and 15 cents per minute to ride.
“It’s great to see them out on the streets of St. George again and people enjoying them,” Mortensen added. “I’m sure over the next few weeks with our ideal weather we will see this become a really big season for scooters in our part of the state.”
The bulk of the users are anticipated to come from Dixie State University students with the balance of ridership from residents venturing out on recreational paved trails and tourists opting for a unique way to get around town.
“It’s very encouraging to have Spin come back,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. “I love them. I have the app on my phone and I plan on using them as much as I can. We see the arrangement with Spin as a very good fit for the city.”
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