Courtesy / Razor USA
If not for the steady rainfall, San Antonio would have seen another app-enabled, dockless e-scooter company launch this week.
Razor USA, the company whose standard scooters were ubiquitous in 2001 when they were named Toy of the Year, is slated to launch its Razor Share program in the city. It largely operates the same way Bird and LimeBike's dockless devices do: Scan a code to unlock the e-scooter, then pay a $1 base fee and 15 cents for every minute of use. Like its competitors in the San Antonio market, Razor's motorized scooters have a top speed of 15 miles per hour.
But unlike earlier models Bird and homegrown operator Blue Duck Scooters have rolled out, Razor's e-scooters are custom-built for the sharing economy, Chief Operating Officer Danny Simon said.
"We've designed this to try and make it as robust and as comfortable for riders as possible," Simon said. "[The] one thing that sets us apart is just the scooter itself."
Once the weather complies, the company will deploy a few hundred scooters in downtown San Antonio and, depending on usage data, plans to spread throughout the city from there, Simon said.
Among Bird, LimeBike, and Blue Duck, there are about 3,000 e-scooters operating in San Antonio – most of them concentrated in the urban core, but the vehicles have been cropping up in other parts of the city recently, with Blue Duck aiming to become the go-to operator on the University of Texas at San Antonio main campus in Northwest San Antonio.
Like Blue Duck and unlike Bird and LimeBike, Razor will employ permanent staffers, rather than contracted "gig economy" workers, to collect the scooters at night, charge them at a San Antonio facility, and then release them again in the morning.
Simon said the company believes that will help establish a better community presence and lead to a longer useful life for the scooters, which tend to last just a few months.
Razor will host to-be-announced pop-ups to demonstrate the scooters and offer free helmets. The company took part in the YMCA of Greater San Antonio's Siclovia event in September.
On Friday, the City of San Antonio began a pilot program to test regulations for the dockless vehicle industry. The rules include a minimum age of 16, a ban on roads with a speed limit higher than 35 mph, fees charged to operating companies, and fines for parking and usage violations.
Razor, which launched in Dallas earlier this month, has been in contact with the City and followed the months-long process for establishing rules governing the nascent scooter-share market.
"We knew a program was coming, and we're still excited about the opportunity to deploy here in San Antonio," he said.
The Razor brand will perhaps appeal to nostalgic millennials and their parents who bought the designed-for-children scooters in droves in the early 2000s. Since then, the company has manufactured more than 34 million scooters, Simon said, but the scooter-share phenomenon didn't take the company by surprise.
"We always knew that electric scooters were a fun and convenient mobility option," he said. "The shared mobility market really opened up an opportunity for more people to begin using them as part of their daily commute. We thought it was a natural shift for us."