AUSTIN, Texas - The first thing you may notice about the new mopeds in Austin is where they are.
"It’s very clear it has a home. It lives, it rides and parks in the streets. It’s completely off sidewalks,” said Frank Reig with the rideshare company Revel.
On Friday, executives with the New York-based company Revel announced the launch of the rideshare service in Austin with a thousand mopeds each with Texas tags and insurance and designed to reduce gridlock.
"So 80 percent of Austin residents currently commute to work by car, so we have a shared goal of reducing that by 50 percent, and we have a vehicle that takes car trips off the road,” said Revel co-founder Paul Suhey.
The mopeds are electric and have a range of about 60 miles on one charge.
"This is for the regular commuter, this is for the person who lives and works in Austin that wants to get around that is fun and affordable and see the city in a whole new way,” said Suhey.
Top speed is 29 mph. Because of that, a motorcycle license is not needed but a valid standard driver’s license is required. A one-time registration fee of $19 covers a background check. It can take a few minutes to 24 hours to complete.
One dollar gets the Moped on the road. The use rate is 25 cents a minute and 10 cents to pause when you're stopped at a location and want to keep it. An additional rider costs an additional dollar.
Safety classes will be provided as well as helmets stored in back compartments. Paper caps are also available for those concerned about hygiene and don’t like sharing headgear. Just like scooters, the new mopeds can be located by using the company app. Revel will have a full-time staff of 30 in Austin to do safety training and maintenance.
With the arrival of this new transportation service, another has left town. As of October 31st, Car2Go is gone. Lease deals for all of the designated parking spaces used by Car2Go are technically still in play.
Jason JonMichael, the City of Austin Transportation Department’s Assistant Director for Smart Mobility, said they are working through the pieces and parts of the deal. But for now, the spaces are off-limits.
“Correct, currently you cannot park in those spaces until the city of Austin has rebranded them accordingly,” said JonMichael.
Austin is at max capacity for scooters, according to JonMichael, but he believes the Revel model could be expanded.
"I'm still interested to find ways to activate that’s that have mobility needs and have mobility challenges, and finding ways to get them into the active transportation landscape of the city of Austin, three-wheel scooters and things for people who may not have balance and can still ride are very important things, those extra options is what unlocks people's mobility,” said JonMichael.
A company offering vehicles in a category that seems to be between moped and scooters is also expanding. OjO, which has scooters with seats, is increasing its fleet in Austin from 100 to 500.