City extends e-scooter pilot to end of year

(Photo Credit: Missy Schrott)

By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]

City staff has extended the e-scooter pilot program until the end of the year, according to an Aug. 23 staff memo.

City council first approved the e-scooter pilot program in November 2018, allowing companies to apply for permits and, if approved, bring fleets of up to 200 rentable dockless scooters to Alexandria. In order to deploy scooters, a company must pay a $5,000 permit fee and sign a memorandum of understanding dictating certain rules and behaviors.

The same MOU includes language that permits staff to extend the pilot program, in order to analyze data, collect community input and craft a recommendation for city council. City staff decided to extend the pilot until the end of 2019 in order to leave time for any necessary changes that have to be made based on the results of city council’s vote in November.

“We just extended it for three months because if we made a recommendation to do something after November, we would need the time after city council makes that approval to implement whatever that is,” Hillary Orr, deputy director of the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, said.

According to Orr, T&ES will be collecting and analyzing data from the pilot in September. In October, staff will release a draft recommendation and collect community input before bringing a final recommendation – either to move forward with e-scooters in some way or cancel the program – to council in November.

“We’re putting out a draft, but, based on what we hear from the community, that might get modified before it goes to council for a final recommendation,” Orr said.

A July 23 staff memo also cited the potential for a phase two pilot, which could potentially be part of city staff’s recommendation to council. A phase two pilot would extend into 2020 and provide staff with additional time to change the pilot and test those changes before implementing or refusing to move forward with a permanent e-scooter program, Christine Mayeur, T&ES’ Complete Streets program manager, told the Times in August.