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New company to pay Prov. $45K for scooter program

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Electric shareable scooters returned to Providence this week, raising the eyebrows of one city councilor who hoped to receive an analysis about the scooter and bike-sharing programs prior to the relaunch.

Spin, a company owned by Ford, deployed its scooters on Monday after signing a contract with the city last week.

According to the contract obtained by WPRI 12, Spin will pay Providence a total of $45,000 over the next year in permit fees, an “ambassador” fee and an endowment. The fees will be used to pay for “newly required city infrastructure” related to the scooters, and for “street ambassadors” to spread the word about reduced fares for low-income residents.

The endowment, worth $15,000, will be put in escrow in case Spin fails to reimburse the city for any needed repairs or maintenance to public property caused by the scooters.

Another company, VeoRide, has also been approved to deploy scooters in Providence. A date has not been set for the launch and the city has not yet released a contract with VeoRide.

Both companies have been approved for 300 scooters each, which will double the number of scooters that were previously available in Providence with Bird and Lime.

City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan said Wednesday she was not notified in advance about Monday’s launch of new scooters.

“We asked for a report and an audit of the program, and we have a number of questions that we wanted to vet,” Ryan told WPRI 12. “We haven’t seen anything.”

The council resolution, passed on July 18, asked the administration to provide a review of the Bird and Lime scooters and also the JUMP e-bikes within 30 days.

Mayor Jorge Elorza’s press secretary Victor Morente said that report is “expected to be completed soon.”

Later on Wednesday, Ryan said she met with members of Elorza’s staff and was told the report would be done by Friday.

The JUMP bikes were pulled from the streets of Providence over the summer amid repeated vandalism. Police said teens were breaking the locking mechanism, disabling the GPS and using them for free. The vandalized bikes could not longer be tracked by the company, and police said they were being used as getaway vehicles in crimes.

“The scooters weren’t as problematic as the bikes were,” Ryan acknowledged. But she said they pose a tripping hazard for pedestrians, including the visually impaired.

After the one-year pilot program ended in September, Bird was denied a renewal from the city and removed its scooters. Lime chose to leave, after not being given permits to deploy as many scooters as the company wanted.

The three companies’ exits left the city without any “micromobility” options, as the scooter and bike-shares are called, for about six weeks until the new Spin scooters arrived.

“Why are these things done under the cover of darkness?” Ryan said. “I don’t have an issues with these e-scooters, I just think that we need to move forward in a mindful and planned way.”

Morente said members of Elorza’s administration did brief “senior City Council staff” about the new scooters.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

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