Charge scooters for parking? Some cities are trying it

A pilot program is trying manage the use of electronic scooters.

Passport, a mobile-payments firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is heading up the micro-mobility pilot with its own platform. Charlotte, Detroit and Omaha, Nebraska, are participating in the six-month pilot.

Using Passport's platform, city officials can see and control scooter use as well as manage curb use with payment options.

Lime is the only participating scooter company.

Passport plans to geomap areas of Charlotte to monitor scooter usage in real time. Vendors will then receive an invoice for how much they owe the city for parking, Wagoner explains. Those vendors can decide if they pass on any cost to the consumer.

Dan Gallagher, deputy director of the Charlotte Department of Transportation, says the end goal is to incentivize better rider behavior and parking etiquette. It's about recognizing the value of scooters and ensuring they are being used the right way, he adds.

"We're trying to learn from what other cities are doing. We recognize that other cities are charging for scooters," Gallagher says.

He notes it will then be up to the City Council to determine how to allocate the money from scooter charges.

"This is the first time that a group of cities are coming together to address the challenges and opportunities that scooters bring. Charlotte, Detroit and Omaha are thinking innovatively about how to manage scooters beyond a cap and fee model," Bob Youakim, chief executive at Passport, said in an email.

Youakim says Passport will test different pricing models throughout the pilot.

He says scooter management in Charlotte can increase mobility choices, support livable neighborhoods and promote equity in transportation.

"Today, cities are facing the introduction of scooters and dockless bikes, but tomorrow, autonomous vehicles and other new forms of urban mobility will be hitting the streets," Youakim says. "It’s critical that cities have a digital infrastructure in place that can power parking transactions, no matter the type of vehicle.

Kate Williams