OGDEN — A new mode of public transportation is coming to Ogden later this month.
On April 19, the Lime transportation rental company will launch their electric scooter sharing program with approximately 300 scooters available for public use in the downtown area.
The scooters will be clustered in groups of three or four, placed at strategic areas throughout downtown. Anyone can use the scooters for an initial fee of $1 and then 15 cents per minute.
Capable of reaching speeds of up to 15 mph, Ogden officials say the program will improve connectivity and help reduce vehicle congestion in the city’s busy downtown area. Users access the Lime app to locate the nearest scooters and the company pays people to retrieve and charge them. Lime’s headquarters are in San Francisco, but the company employs a local staff in every region they operate.
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said the scooters will help solve the “first mile/last mile” conundrum of public transportation. According to the Utah Transit Authority, gaps of one-mile or more between transit stops and destinations or starting points discourages potential transit riders. The theory says that the easier it is to access a transit system, the more likely people will use it.
“We really think this will help solve a lot of that,” Johnson said. “So, for example, if you’re coming from Salt Lake City and you have a meeting at the municipal building, you can take FrontRunner and from there, hop on a scooter. It’s going to cut the time to do something like that drastically.”
Lime Director of Strategic Development-Northwest Jonathan Hopkins said the average scooter trip across all of Lime’s service areas is between one and two miles.
Hopkins said the program began in Salt Lake City in August. Lime has paid out $250,000 to Salt Lake City residents who charge scooters.
“We’ve had a lot of success in Salt Lake and we think we can have the same type of success in Ogden too,” Hopkins said.
The Ogden program will be a three-month pilot to start out and will continue indefinitely if Ogden City and Lime are satisfied.
“Basically, if everybody is happy with it, it just keeps going,” Hopkins said. “We view ourselves as extremely dedicated to making strong partnerships with the communities we are involved with.”
Scooter placement will be solidified after Lime monitors usage data for the first few months of the program. The scooters can’t be ridden on sidewalks, but must be parked there, in the area immediately next to the curb, not blocking vehicle parking spaces, bus stops, etc. When parking, riders must also leave five to six feet on the sidewalk to make room for pedestrians.
Johnson said the city will receive a small portion of the program’s profits, which covers Lime’s use of city infrastructure. The city paid no up-front cost to bring the service in.