San Francisco moped-sharing startup aims for quick success 

click to enlarge Michael Keating, above, founded Scoot Networks. Scoot’s rental mopeds allow users to plug in their smartphones, left, to act as virtual dashboards. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SPECIAL TO THE SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/Special to The SF Examiner
  • Michael Keating, above, founded Scoot Networks. Scoot’s rental mopeds allow users to plug in their smartphones, left, to act as virtual dashboards.

San Francisco residents tired of shelling out big bucks for cabs or getting stuck on slow-moving Muni buses will soon have another option for traversing The City: rentable scooters.

Scoot Networks, a local startup, will dispatch electric mopeds around San Francisco, available to rent for various time periods, under a plan that combines aspects of bike-sharing with the business model of Zipcar.

Mopeds-for-rent are a perfect fit for San Francisco, which has a slow transit system, stifling traffic, expensive cab rates and hilly terrain, said Michael Keating, founder of Scoot.



Scooters will be available for pickup and drop-off in strategic locations across The City, with the initial focus on downtown. Keating is still tweaking the rates, but he said an unlimited monthly pass would cost $100 to $150 — about the price of a Muni Fast Pass and several cab rides. He said rates will be adjusted as the business grows, but the ideal use of the scooter would be for a convenient and inexpensive one-way jaunt in The City. With speeds that top out at 30 mph, the scooters would mainly be used on local streets and roads.

“If someone needs to get from North Beach to the SoMa district, they could spend $2 for a 15-minute ride on a scooter,” Keating said. “We want this to be as convenient as cabs for half the price, and as cheap as Muni but twice as fast.”

The vehicles would have a high-tech twist — to activate them, users would have to plug a smartphone in to a protected center console. The phone would then act as a virtual dashboard, providing information about speed, preferred routes and traffic conditions.

“Smartphones have taken the place of laptops for many people,” Keating said. “So we think we can still reach a wide swath of people.”

Keating has already introduced a limited number of the mopeds to select private businesses, and the service will likely be available for greater public use by the end of this year.

Keating said he has lofty goals for the business — by the time it’s fully introduced, he said Scoot could account for 10 percent of all trips made in San Francisco.

Keating said he’s aware of the perils of scooters; he admits they’re more dangerous than cars. But if enough people are using them, The City’s roads will be less congested and easier to navigate.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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