A new type of scooter found its way onto the sidewalks and then the streets of San Antonio last week.
Scooter-share operator Razor USA rolled out the EcoSmart scooter – equipped with a seat and mounted front basket – on Saturday. Of the 1,000 scooters Razor is authorized to operate in the city, there are about 160 EcoSmart scooters.
At first glance, it's easy to mistake the scooter for another kind of dockless vehicle set to make its way to San Antonio: electric bikes, known as e-bikes. The EcoSmart's wheels are larger in diameter compared to the company's other scooter model available for rent, but the base frame is the same.
San Antonio is the third of the eight markets Razor operates in to receive the EcoSmart vehicles. Chief Operating Officer Danny Simon spoke with the Rivard Report about why the company decided to roll them out in San Antonio, how they are being received, and how the company plans to compete with e-bikes, for which Uber has submitted an application to the City of San Antonio.
Rivard Report: Why did you choose San Antonio to be a testing ground for this new scooter model?
Danny Simon: San Antonio has been a great market for us. … The city has been a great partner. We think the EcoSmart format is really well-suited to the San Antonio area. It gives riders a lot more flexibility, and the basket and seat address a different type of rider and different type of ride.
RR: What does the data say so far about whether riders have embraced the new scooters?
DS: We’ve seen really great early results from the EcoSmarts. … We’ve seen great data, high ridership, a high number of rides per scooter. And we really only have a small number of them on the ground, so we think there’s a lot of potential for this format.
RR: Why would a rider choose an EcoSmart scooter over a standing scooter?
DS: There are a number of uses cases regular e-scooters don’t lend themselves to, such as picking up groceries. There is a broader range of riders that may find it more comfortable to ride on a seated format. The size and convenience factors we think broaden the universe of people that want to use these devices.
RR: Does Razor consider these scooters to be more competitive with other dockless offerings, such as e-bikes?
DS: We do think it’s competitive. We found in other markets where the EcoSmart is available [San Diego and Tempe, Arizona] it has a pretty loyal following. There’s just something about a throttle and no need to pedal that seems to appeal to people. The micro-mobility market is big enough that there’s a diverse range of needs and wants. E-bikes and EcoSmarts alike can all find their niche.
RR: Heading into the new year, the City says it plans to step up enforcement of rules regarding e-scooters, including removing them from such restricted areas as the River Walk. What measures are you taking to ensure your scooters are being used lawfully?
DS: Our app has features to help meet local ordinances. Razor has prided itself on not violating local state and city ordinances, which is not necessarily true of everyone in this space. … San Antonio has red zones on our [GPS] map which prevent users from ending their rides in those areas. We continue to maintain open channels of community with the City. In general, our goal is to be as responsible a partner for the community as we can and to be as responsive … as we can be.