New scooters hit San Francisco streets

Revel, recently known for fatal crashes in NYC, launches in San Francisco with new safety protocols

Watch out, San Francisco. There’s a new scooter in town.

Revel, formally known as a shared electric vehicle company, launched its fleet of 432 light blue mopeds in The City Monday in neighborhoods including Haight-Ashbury, The Castro, the Mission District, The Marina, the Richmond District, SoMa, Russian Hill, the Sunset District, and Pacific Heights.

The vehicles are equipped with a custom motor specifically designed to navigate local hills, according to the company.

Revel, which received its operations permit from SFMTA in July, enters the transit marketplace at a time when public transportation ridership is plummeting due to coronavirus concerns and congestion is beginning to increase as car-owners opt for their private vehicles for trips instead. It also faces an established competitor, Scoot, which has offered a similar moped rental service since 2012.

Co-founder and CEO Frank Reig says the mopeds provide a sustainable alternative to cars and a competitive pricing and discount program that will make it more accessible to transit-dependent riders.

After a $5 first-time registration fee, each ride costs $1 per person (two riders can fit on each moped) to start plus $.39 per minute. Any rider participating in a local, state or federal assistance program is eligible for a 40% discount.

(Carly Graf/S.F. Examiner)

(Carly Graf/S.F. Examiner)

Yes, there are other scooter companies (though many have limited or reduced their devices throughout the City during the shelter-in-place order). Reig said Revel is different because it “rejects” the gig economy and instead relies on a full-time staff of local workers, according to the press release.

“We hire locally and are working with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development to source talent, along with the International Rescue Committee to hire from the San Francisco refugee and immigrant communities,” he said.

San Francisco is not Revel’s first location. Founded in March 2018 as a pilot program in Brooklyn, it now operates in Oakland, Berkeley, Washington D.C., Austin, Miami and New York City, where it only recently resumed service after three fatal crashes over two weeks in July.

The San Francisco launch includes a series of newly minted safety protocols intended to address concerns about reported bad behavior from Revel riders in other cities including foregoing helmets, running red lights, speeding and riding where they shouldn’t.

All riders now must take a 21-question safety training and watch an instructional video prior to their first ride, the press release says. They’re also required to take a selfie at the beginning of the rental to prove they’re wearing a helmet, either their own or one of the two provided with every vehicle.

Mopeds, which can carry up to one driver and one passenger, are capped at speeds of 30 miles per hour.

Reig said the company plans to expand in the “near future.”

“At a time when transportation alternatives are needed more than ever, we’re proud to offer a reliable, clean-energy mode and option to more communities in the San Francisco area.”

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