FORT WAYNE - Indiana’s second-largest city has gotten into the scooter business. Fort Wayne has tapped Chicago-based VeoRide to help a 16-month pilot program to bring e-scooters and pedal bikes to the city.

The pilot is underway with several dozen e-scooters already having arrived in the city. It will ultimately involve up to 300 e-scooters and 150 pedal bikes.

“We are thrilled to be working with the City of Fort Wayne to provide its residents with a sustainable transportation alternative,” said VeoRide Midwest Manager Ben Thomas. “We hope this pilot project helps reduce car emissions and time wasted in traffic, while also providing areas of the city that need more first and last mile commuting options with a quicker, easier and more fun way to get where they need to be.”

VeoRide says its operation does not require tax dollars. Customers use a smartphone app to access the scooters and bikes. Scooters cost $1 to unlock and $0.15 per minute to use. Pedal bikes are $1 to unlock and $.05 per minute to ride. The company uses geo-fencing technology to ensure customers only park the vehicles in approved places. If they don’t, they will continue to be charged until they park properly.

Thomas says VeoRide and Fort Wayne did a lot of research on each other before inking the deal for the pilot program.

“We see an up and coming city,” says Thomas. There’s a lot of potential in the city with a lot of investment being put in. There’s a lot of hotels and new apartment complexes being put in downtown. There’s a really interesting energy that’s there in Fort Wayne, so we’re excited that we were able to be selected to be a part of that.”

“Our goals for the pilot program are to increase transportation options for residents; promote travel to local landmarks, restaurants and shops; encourage physical activity; provide options for visitors and tourists to explore our city; improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion; and connect neighborhoods,” said Fort Wayne City Planner Dan Baisden.

The 16-month pilot program runs through December 2020. Next fall, Thomas says he expects the city will begin evaluating data including ridership and VeoRide’s operational performance before deciding on whether to move forward with a long-term agreement. The Fort Wayne Community Development Division is also developing a committee of bike advocates, public works staff and police officers to study best practices and learn from other cities with similar pilot programs.

Scooter and bike share programs have become increasingly popular throughout Indiana. Earlier this year, Indianapolis approved a fourth company to provide scooter service in the city. Late last year, scooter companies began operating in Bloomington and South Bend.

Ultimately, Thomas says VeoRide is looking to provide a safe and environmentally-friendly transportation alternative, while being able to meet what he expects to be strong customer demand.

“We want to measure our success not only by the ridership and the revenue side of the business, but also how it is impacting the day-to-day trips people are taking from their houses to work, to local restaurants – we want to measure that based on how the community is actually using the product, and is it being used in a way that is benefiting not only the user through the individual ride, but is also benefiting the community as a whole.”