Micro-mobility programs continue their rapid growth, not just because pedal bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters are fun to use, but because they help solve real challenges faced by many cities and communities. Why? The first mile/last mile problem represents the sometimes inconvenient, and often too-long, distance people need to walk or wait in order to reach their destination. This causes an increase in vehicles, a reduction in “walking the town,” and contributes to gridlock, parking challenges, emissions-driven pollution and more.
A micro-mobility solution offers connection, access, sustainability and small business growth. It’s been shown to bring communities closer together, as well as revitalize a downtown area or town center. At Zagster, we want to unlock the promise of micro-mobility for everyone, while addressing the new challenges that a shared program might potentially create.
Operating a shared e-mobility program is a complex endeavor that requires balancing the wants and needs of multiple stakeholders: riders, non-riders, city or town officials, the community at large, and the company delivering the service.
Three Must-Have Components of Any Micro-Mobility Solution
We’ve been working in the micro-mobility space for over a decade, currently operating over 250 programs in 35 states. Here’s what we know about what makes a program successful:
The Ride: It begins with the rider’s experience using the physical product, which could be a pedal bike, an electrified scooter, or an E-bike (a bike that has battery assistance). The most optimal service solution is not only safe and reliable, but also offers a portfolio of riding options. Pedal bikes are most familiar, although not everyone wants to exert the effort needed on this human-powered vehicle. E-scooters are a great alternative, but some are just not comfortable riding a scooter on a busy street or sidewalk. Battery-assisted bicycles are an attractive hybrid, although they’re currently fairly expensive to deploy at scale.
Ease of Use: The second component involves how a rider might interact with the product. This is most often a mobile app that assists with membership, payment, locating the right vehicle, and unlocking it. Some even help you plan the most optimal route to your destination, customized for the type of vehicle you’re riding. The app should be a seamless extension of the service. It should facilitate the entire customer journey from quick vehicle discovery and unlock to quick hop-on and hop-off to easy payment options.
Operated by Professionals, Driven by Technology: The third component is operations, what we at Zagster know to be the foundation of a successful micro-mobility share. Operations and the underlying technology platform that drives it, keeps the entire machine running in a way that supports all constituents. Operations backed by dedicated professionals, with a dash of machine learning and data analytics, ensures the vehicle is available when and where you need it. It’s the “magical experience” that creates delighted customers and maximizes the number of rides per scooter. The team on the ground maintains each vehicle so that it’s safe, reliable, clean, charged and ready for a full ride.
Let’s dig deeper into this critical component of micro-mobility.
A great operator dynamically balances the needs of riders and non-riders, complying with the rules and regulations of the city or municipality, and minimizing interference with the daily lives of non-riders. The best operators are visible only when it matters. If you encounter the operator re-balancing e-scooters in the middle of the day, they're friendly, engaging, and knowledgeable. At Zagster, we employ folks from the community serving their community. They are not part-time or seasonal employees, but full-time team members who have often been with the company for many years and have a growth path within our company. They know and care about the brand they serve, as well as the riders and the community within which we operate.
When it comes to ensuring product availability, operators must be ready to navigate complexity and unexpected circumstances: there might be a scooter in front of me, but maybe it's soaking wet because it just rained, or perhaps it's damaged, it's not fully charged, or just not ready for the ride I want. If the asset is present but not ready, the rider experience is diminished and next time the rider is likely to search for another option.
The operator’s job is to ensure readiness of the product at all times. So if it's raining outside, let's take the scooters off the street so as to not interfere with public safety. If someone identifies a scooter that's damaged, let's quickly remove it, replace it, and repair it, then get it back into use. We do everything we can to ensure that our riders are never inconvenienced, and that rides are safe for every single use
Ultimately, an operations partner represents the company delivering the service. In addition to delivering a great customer experience, the goal is to elevate that company or brand. At Zagster, we balance the need to be an invisible partner with best representing the brand. We adhere to our partners’ requirements as embodied in a service-level agreement (or SLA),comply with the rules in the communities within which we’re proud to operate, and ensure that riders have the best possible experience. Our goal is to have riders fall in love with the service.
At Zagster, we offer a micro-mobility operations platform, performing all the activities and functions described above. To learn more, please reach out to myself at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s get the conversation, and the best ride, started now.