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Tucson moves closer to having up to 1,500 e-scooter rentals on city streets

Tucson moves closer to having up to 1,500 e-scooter rentals on city streets

Electric scooters

City officials say the six-month pilot program is designed to test where the scooters are a good fit for Tucson.

Electric scooter companies Razor and Bird are coming to Tucson.

The exact date of when their e-scooters — up to 1,500 of them — will hit the streets isn’t clear.

City officials announced late Friday night that they have selected the two companies after an extended public bid process.

They did not release a figure of how much the companies will pay the city.

One estimate from the city earlier this year suggested Tucson could receive as much as $300,000 a year from the two companies.

Under the terms of the deal, Bird and Razor will each be allowed to put as many as 500 scooters on city streets.

They will each have the option of adding an extra 250 e-scooters to their Tucson fleet if they are put in what the city calls “opportunity zones.”

The city describes these zones as areas with “high percentages of low-income, transit-dependent households, and households that don’t have access to a motor vehicle.”

However, the scooters are still banned from one part of town — the University of Arizona campus.

UA officials banned their use earlier this year.

The city pilot program will last for six months, with the companies given the option to renew for an additional six-month period.

Officials say the six-month test is designed to minimize sidewalk riding and clutter and to test where the scooters are a good fit for Tucson.

The decision by the Tucson City Council was not unanimous, however.

Councilman Steve Kozachik, who represents midtown Tucson including North Fourth Avenue and the UA campus, predicts the scooters will have the disastrous track record they’ve had in other cities.

“Jurisdictions across the country have tried these things and are nearly all regretting it. We’re asking for clutter on our sidewalks, injuries on the roadways and an enforcement burden that we don’t have the resources to take on,” Kozachik said.

“I think we just got sucked into a trendy fad that as soon as they start getting blown all over the place during the monsoons will prove how foolish it was to start down this path.”

Councilman Paul Durham disagrees, saying the city’s approach in tightly regulating what these companies can and cannot do has worked elsewhere in the country.

Durham said the e-scooters represent an opportunity to address the so-called first and last mile of transit, where people who rely on public transportation must often walk considerable lengths to the nearest stop.

He also says the e-scooters might ease the pressure on some high-volume traffic areas, if some people find them easier to use daily than their cars.

Users rent the scooters on an hourly basis using a mobile app.

Prices vary from city to city.

Durham did note that he would be willing to prematurely end the relationship with either company if there is a major issue, an aspect discussed by the council previously.

The contracts, which haven’t been signed, are expected to allow the city to end the pilot program early if an issue arises.

The bottom line, Durham says, is that the program must be safe for both the riders and those around them.

Absent from the city’s announcement on Friday is when the scooters will hit the streets, with officials saying the companies can start operating 30 days after receiving their permit from the city.

However, those permits could be issued weeks or even months from now.

“The City will begin coordinating with the two firms on developing a timeline for launching the program and making scooters available for rent on city streets,” city officials stated in a news release Friday night.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson

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Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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