A moped rental service activated 1,000 mopeds in Austin Friday as part of a partnership with the Austin Transportation Department.
Frank Reig, the CEO and co-founder of the New York-based transportation company Revel, said the company wanted to bring the mopeds to Austin after finding success with the program in New York and Washington D.C. He said licensed drivers over the age of 21 will be able to rent two-person mopeds through an app after passing an initial background check.
“We’re excited to be doing the same thing here in Austin (as New York and Washington) to make sure that everyone who has the opportunity, if they want to ride our vehicle, can,” Reig said.
According to a press release, rides will cost $1 per rider to start, 25 cents per minute while riding and 10 cents per minute while parked. The vehicles’ speed will be capped at 30 mph, and riders will be required to follow local traffic and parking laws, according to a press release.
Reig said unlike electric scooters and bicycles, the mopeds will not be allowed on sidewalks. He said the company will provide free lessons to new riders to help them learn to use the vehicles, but they will be focused specifically on how to use the vehicle rather than how to deal with scenarios such as traffic accidents.
“This is a lesson to learn the vehicle,” Reig said. “This is not a lesson in hypotheticals.”
In an email, Blanca Gamez, the associate director of transportation for University Parking and Transportation Services, said drivers can use Revel’s mopeds on campus streets and must follow current University rules while using and parking them. She said this will include obtaining a Class M parking permit to use campus parking spaces designated for mopeds, motercycles and motor scooters.
Reig said Revel will provide two helmets for every vehicle, which will include full liability insurance to users during rides. He said the company will give a 40% discount to people who use public assistance programs to ensure equal access to the vehicles.
Revel co-founder and COO Paul Suhey said the company is hiring over 30 full-time employees to operate the fleet of vehicles. Reig said 80% of Austin residents commute to work by car, but one of Revel’s goals is to bring the number of cars down to 40% to decrease traffic and congestion.
“We have a vehicle that is proven to take cars off the road but fits within a car world,” Suhey said. “We don’t consider ourselves to be disruptors. We’re providing easy access to a type of vehicle that’s been around for decades.”
Jason JonMichael, assistant director of Smart Mobility at the Austin Transportation Department, said the city’s partnership with Revel will help toward the goal of economic growth and environmental stability. He said Austin will likely see other changes in transportation, such as low speed lanes for electric vehicles in the future.
“If we can provide as many options as we can to Austin’s residents and visitors, then we’ll be able to obtain these sustainability goals and mobility goals that we set for ourselves,” JonMichael said.