Scoot to commute: Bay Area scooter share

Residents and visitors to San Francisco know that space is a highly valuable commodity.  Finding a parking space anywhere in the City by the Bay can be nothing short of a miracle, and owning a car feels more like a liability than an advantage.  Car shares such as Zipcar have become popular in recent years, allowing customers to pay a monthly fee to use vehicles on a trip-by-trip basis, letting someone else take care of maintenance, insurance, and garage space.

Now, for those looking for a more hip, compact form of transportation can rent a scooter from Scoot Networks for a fee that costs only slightly more than a MUNI pass.  Riders use their smartphones to locate the electric scooters in their area.  Once claimed, the phones sit in a special dock on the dashboard, unlocking the scooter and displaying information on speed, range, and direction.  Reaching top speeds of 20-30 mph, the scooters are perfect for short hops around the city, and have enough battery life to last for a work day before recharging back in their home parking spots.  (At the moment, scooters must be returned to their original pick-up points, but once the fleet expands, Scoot Networks hopes to facilitate more one-way jaunts.)  To rent a moped, California drivers do not need to obtain a special endorsement on their licenses, and the company plans on offering training for customers who are unfamiliar with operating the vehicles.

By taking advantage of China’s huge investment in electric vehicles, CEO Michael Keating has been able to benefit from the volume of moped production and pay only $1,000 per vehicle.  This relatively small price-tag will let Scoot Networks turn over its fleet every year so users can avoid worrying about mechanical problems due to wear.  Scoot Networks will begin by providing rides to private corporate clients before taking their service public by the end of the year.  Next time you visit the Land of Fog and Clam Chowder, look for the newest trend in city travel!

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