Boise seeks to reform e-scooter system to provide more transit options, possibly lower costs

ByShannon J. Cortes

Oct 19, 2022

Boise’s e-scooter business is set for a shake-up.

Currently, three different electric scooter companies are licensed to operate within the Boise City limits. Lime, Byrd and Spin are licensed operators in the City of Boise and must comply with an ordinance passed by the Boise City Council in 2018 to accommodate battery-powered vehicles. Since then, the three companies have placed their scooters in and around downtown Boise for users to pick up and leave wherever they choose.

That could soon change.

Starting next year, the city is considering a new model where a single scooter company will operate in the city of Boise in partnership. This means the company would operate with the city in the driver’s seat, making scooters an extension of the city’s bus network with the aim of getting people around for more than just nighttime jaunts.

“Rather than just regulating (electric scooter companies), let’s work with them to solve the issues that we would like to address, whether it’s the question of affordability, geographical distribution or other related issues. how we handle security and the deployment of the devices around the city,” Boise Planning and Development Services Director Tim Keane told the City Council on Tuesday. “…We think it’s will be better off just working in partnership on things that will improve the city and the process of operating their business.”

Keane said the aim is to launch the new, revamped electric scooter system by next May.

What could this new system look like?

The exact details of how the system will work are still being worked out.

Keane said the first decision the city made was to extend Byrd and Lime’s contracts through March so that all three companies would see their existing licenses expire at the same time next year. In the meantime, the city is set to issue a request for proposals seeking interested e-scooter companies next month with the goal of choosing one in January. Next, the city will work with the company and the Boise City Council to develop policy for operating the system.

Other cities have started moving towards this model, including Portland, Keane said.

Boise State University and Valley Regional Transit both have contracts for their own micro-mobility systems, with BSU using a contract governing e-scooters on campus and VRT running a pilot e-bike program in downtown Boise. Keane said the goal would be to combine these two elements into one all-encompassing system for getting around on rented e-bikes or e-scooters.

Keane said any company interested in partnering with the City of Boise on this project should come up with ways to use the scooters to connect people to and from transit stops where they might not be directly within walking distance. walk from the bus, instead of downtown. He is also interested in proposals that would reduce travel costs for users, or potentially in specific areas of the city where people would use scooters to get to and from public transit or work instead of just commuting. to entertain.

This model would also be open to private sponsorships like Boise GreenBike was before it closed. Bringing in other companies to subsidize the system would mean it would be easier to reach areas of the city that won’t bring as much profit to the e-scooter company, but serve a community need.