Electric scooter sharing program coming to Vancouver
Transportation service to charge around $15 a month and $0.25 a kilometre.
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Getting around the Lower Mainland via scooter will become a reality for many Vancouverites this summer.
Vancouver-based Saturna Green Systems plans to roll out an electric scooter sharing service in June with a fleet of up to 100 bikes.
“We’ll also be launching in London (England) at the same time,” said marketing manager Marco Parlato. “The idea is to test it in Vancouver and sell it as a franchise all over the world.”
The fleet, which would be a first for the city, will eventually grow to around 300 scooters, Parlato explained, depending on demand.
The system is based on new technology installed on each bike’s dashboard (designed and developed by Saturna over four years).
“It’s a seven-inch touch screen, like a tablet, with GPS, a navigation system, everything needed for scooter sharing,” Parlato said of the scooters, which will be accessed and reserved through a mobile app. Riders will have to enter a pin number, which will allow it to start at the push of a button.
Each set of wheels, he noted, will be able to clock in around 50 kilometres on a single charge and will be able to be picked up and parked just about anywhere (similar to Car2Go). Users who take the time to take it to a charging station will be rewarded with free kilometres.
The pilot project is being made available through the green and digital demonstration program, a partnership between the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Economic Commission. The program allows Saturna to have temporary access to the city’s streets for trial purposes.
In terms of cost, Parlato said the company is looking at billing users $15 a month and about $0.25 a kilometre.
“We won’t be charging by the minute. If you’re stopped at a red light, we don’t want to give you anxiety. This way you can plan your trip. If you’re doing seven kilometres, there are no surprises.”
One of the challenges – what Parlato called the “million dollar question” – has been the issue of helmet sharing. He said the goal is to ultimately have every rider use their own (the company intends to dish out a helmet with every subscription). Each scooter will also carry head gear and hair nets inside the cargo box for “emergencies.”
The idea to launch a scooter sharing program, meanwhile, came after the company’s CEO was stuck in traffic in Brazil and noticed scooters weaving in and out.
“He realized combing telematics technology with the flexibility of the scooter, that you can actually provide a sharing service. You can actually release citizens of Vancouver from congestion and all the problems daily commuters have. And you can help the environment. There are zero emissions,” said Parlato.