- The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) has selected three companies — Veo, Lime and Bird — to participate in its much-anticipated dockless scooter pilot program.
- The pilot program will be in a section of the East Bronx, with companies expected to deploy 1,000 scooters each by the early summer.
- NYCDOT said the pilot program will now enter a community engagement phase, with the three companies to work with communities to site parking areas and educate the public about dockless scooters and the pilot program's safety, equity and accessibility components.
New York City has long been seen as one of the last great untapped markets by dockless scooter companies, as state law prohibited their use until last year. That changed when Gov. Andrew Cuomo added a policy proposal to a budget bill legalizing their use, and the state legislature agreed. The New York City Council then moved quickly to approve a local pilot program.
The pilot will come to an 18-square-mile area of the East Bronx, which is home to about 570,000 people. The pilot's first phase is expected to bring between 2,000 and 3,000 scooters into the demonstration area this year, which includes the neighborhoods of Eastchester, Wakefield, Pelham Parkway and Co-op City. A potential second phase in 2022 could double the amount of scooters available and add more neighborhoods. NYCDOT said in February its pilot area is designed to not overlap with Bronx neighborhoods targeted by Citi Bike as part of its expansion plan.
At a Wednesday press conference, NYCDOT Commissioner Hank Gutman said the agency will "work closely" with the three companies as well as local communities to make dockless scooters "an effective, convenient and safe way to get around."
"We are proud to bring e-scooter share to the Bronx... We welcome Bird, Lime and Veo—and we look forward to working closely with them, elected officials and local Bronx communities to make e-scooter share an effective, convenient and safe way to get around.” - Commissioner Gutman pic.twitter.com/fXrfK3xVkA— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) April 14, 2021
The companies chosen for the scheme reacted positively, and they promised to be good partners with New York City and its residents.
"We're honored by the opportunity to once again serve New York," Lime CEO Wayne Ting said in a statement. "This e-scooter pilot program couldn’t come at a better time, as New York focuses on providing low-cost transportation options that allow residents to travel socially-distanced in the open air."
In a blog post, Bird said it is "committed to being a responsible and equitable transportation partner" in New York City. It pledged to use its latest scooter model in the pilot program in the East Bronx, in addition to other alternatives including a four-wheeled version. The company also said it would make its riding plans like Community Pricing and Global Ride Pass available to make its services financially accessible to all.
"In close partnership with the community, Bird is committed to ensuring the success of the program and providing NYC residents and visitors with a safe, reliable shared mobility service that is equitable and accessible to all," Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. "We look forward to introducing our most advanced technology to the shared mobility program and evolving our service to best meet the unique needs for riders in the Bronx."
In a statement released by NYCDOT, Veo co-founder and CEO Candice Xie called it an "honor" to be selected for the pilot program.
"This last year has demonstrated that expanding access to new forms of affordable mobility can complement public transit and is crucial to the livelihoods of our neighbors and the functioning of our cities," she continued. "We look forward to providing NYC with our latest standing and sit down e-scooters so that riders in the East Bronx have more options to get around safely and sustainably."
Ting said the pilot program can help New York City recover from the coronavirus pandemic in an equitable and sustainable way, and it can do so in a way that reduces what he described as "crippling" traffic congestion.
"Getting this program off the ground quickly, in the midst of a global pandemic, is clear evidence of how global cities like New York are adapting to establish a new normal for transportation that is shared, electric and carbon-free," Ting said.