Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Four months after Blue Duck was declared ineligible from operating scooters in its hometown, the electric scooter-share startup has decided to take its wares abroad – to Ireland.
The company announced Tuesday a pilot program in Dublin, Ireland, which will make Blue Duck the first scooter-share operator to launch in the country. The pilot will be restricted to Dublin City University’s private campus.
Electric scooters are barred from public rights-of-way, according to Irish law, but could be permitted soon if a bill to amend that country’s Irish Road Traffic Act is successful. The bill includes language that could open the door to electric scooters in the future.
During the pilot program, Blue Duck is partnering with Luna, a Dublin-based GPS technology firm. Luna’s devices can pinpoint the location of an e-scooters within five centimeters as opposed to current GPS technology, which is measured in meters.
In a press release, Blue Duck CEO Michael Keane said the technology would better help the company locate its scooters while also complying more strictly with geofencing requirements. In San Antonio, for example, e-scooters are geofenced so that devices slowly come to a halt in Alamo Plaza and other pedestrian thoroughfares where scooters are prohibited.
In the wake of a failed bid to obtain one of three contracts to operate e-scooters in San Antonio, Blue Duck has shuffled its leadership team, including replacing former CEO Eric Bell, and secured millions of dollars in capital. The funding, the company has said, has fueled expansion to various smaller cities in Texas, including El Paso, where the company launched this week. Additionally, Blue Duck operates fleets in Bryan, Corpus Christi, Laredo as well as San Antonio-area municipalities Alamo Heights and Olmos Park. The company also is set to launch in Edinburg in the Rio Grande Valley.
Although Blue Duck says it plans to focus on growing its enterprise in the Southeastern U.S. – with Vicksburg, Mississippi, a city 40 miles outside of the capital Jackson, reportedly in its sights – the company aims to use the pilot program in Dublin as a test case for European operations. Keane said because micro-mobility is more widely adopted in Europe than in the U.S., scooter companies that have operated in European cities have been successful.
“We think it would be an interesting foothold for us,” he said.