CT: Two CT cities could soon have a rideshare-type system in place for scooters and bicycles

May 2, 2024
Capitol Region Council of Governments is seeking a "micromobility operator" to serve both Hartford and New Haven with convenient access to scooters and bicycles that users can reserve on their phone.

Apr. 30—HARTFORD — Six months after Superpedestrian shut down its U.S. operations, effectively ending the LINK Scooter program in Hartford, the Capitol Region Council of Governments is looking for a new vendor to bring rentable scooters and bikes to the city of Hartford.

CRCOG announced it is seeking a "micromobility operator" to serve both Hartford and New Haven with convenient access to scooters and bicycles that users can reserve on their phone, similar to rideshare apps. Services like these exist in many major cities like New York and Washington, D.C.

"Vendors are being asked to design, build, operate, maintain, manage, and market a modern, smart micromobility system," the request for proposals reads. "This system will enable the public to access shared vehicles from publicly accessible locations and return them to another location as an extension of the public transportation system and as a new mobility option for residents and visitors to our communities."

CRCOG consists of 38 towns in the Hartford region and provides regionalized services for these municipalities. CRCOG officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"In a city with low car ownership rates and high transit ridership, equitable, accessible transportation is a clear and critical need for residents," said Grace Yi, a senior planner with the city of Hartford. "Shared micromobility is one way to bridge the transportation gap, and under the previous system, there had been hundreds of thousands of scootershare rides in Hartford."

When CRCOG first proposed the idea of micromobility to its member municipalities in 2021 and only Hartford took advantage of it. The LINK scooters proved successful in the capital city before shutting down in December. As of October, the company had logged 450,000 rides in Hartford.

In Hartford, about 30 percent of residents do not own a car, according to CT Data Haven.

"They're just such a good resource for the city of Hartford," Hartford resident Casey Moran said. "They kind of fill in the gaps in the bus network and let people kind of go north, south, east, and west in the city and not have to come downtown every time and it gives you a transportation option where you don't need to worry about leaving something behind or making sure you have a secure place to secure a bike."

Companies interested in operating scooters in Hartford and New Haven will have until May 20 to submit an RFP proposal.

Yi said micromobility is one piece in the puzzle of growing the city's multimodal transportation network.

"As the nexus of various sustainable transportation options from CTfastrak to Hartford Line and the growing bicycle facilities network, the city hopes to continue supporting partner services, reintroduce local micromobility, reduce greenhouse gases, and provide other co-benefits to our community," Yi said.

Other municipalities in Connecticut have attempted to bring similar programs with less success. In Fairfield, the Bird scooter program ended in March after a two-year pilot. Ridership declined after the onset of the program and Bird went bankrupt.

Similarly, records show Lynx, a Bethel-based startup that established electric scooter programs in New Milford and Bridgeport, dissolved around the same time as Superpedestrian.

In Bridgeport, scooters also came under fire after two children were severely injured on the scooters when they were struck by a car. Bridgeport was contracting with now-defunct Lynx.

Yi said that all vendors applying to the RFP would need to submit a safety proposal, some of which may specifically address underage driving.

Riders like Moran believe the end of the scooters was less about lack of interest or safety concerns and more about the end of Superpedestrian's U.S. operations. Moran also said he feels the scooters are safe, but they should inspire municipalities to build more bike and scooter infrastructure.

"The more that cycling infrastructure is built up around Hartford, the safer they will feel because there'll be a separation of space between the cars and the scooters," Moran said.


(c)2024 Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn.

Visit Journal Inquirer, Manchester, Conn. at www.journalinquirer.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.