Dockless electric scooters hit Richmond streets Thursday.
Bolt Mobility, the first company approved to operate in the city limits under a new pilot program, held a ceremonial launch at Monroe Park to mark their entrance into the Richmond market. Bolt paid the city $45,000 to roll out a fleet of 500 e-scooters.
“Bolt is super excited to take part in the massive and impressive growth that this city has gone through in order to provide simple, sustainable and safe transportation options for everyone,” said Will Nicholas, Bolt’s executive vice president for operations.
Like other dockless mobility companies, Bolt operates a smartphone app that riders can download, then use to locate the scooters and pay to ride them. Bolt scooters are free to unlock and 25 cents per minute of use.
The Florida-based company will employ about a dozen people in Richmond and has rented a warehouse space in Scott’s Addition to serve as its local headquarters. Richmond is the third place in Virginia and fifth overall the company has entered since 2018. It also operates in Alexandria, Arlington County, Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Dockless scooters and bicycles have landed in cities across the country as an alternative to popular ride-hailing services for people looking to travel short distances.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney proposed a set of rules for a pilot program last year, saying he believed they could help provide access to jobs and education.
“E-scooters will help us fill the gaps in our transportation network,” Stoney said Thursday, adding that Bolt had agreed to designate 35 percent of its fleet, or about 175 scooters, to low-income neighborhoods.
Nicholas said the company would work with the Department of Public Works, which is overseeing the pilot, as well as the City Council to determine what specific neighborhoods it would target. The company will also offer discounted rides to people who apply and demonstrate a need based on enrollment in a federal safety net program or living in subsidized housing, Nicholas said.
Stoney then donned a helmet and joined Nicholas for what the mayor said was his first ride on a dockless scooter.
“A little shaky,” Stoney joked as he took a tentative lap around the fountain at the park’s center.
Said Nicholas: “You’re a natural.”