Blue Duck Scooters will become the newest mode of transportation available in Bryan starting Thursday.
A launch event at 11 a.m. Thursday outside of the Carnegie History Center in Downtown Bryan marks the beginning of a six-month pilot program that will bring 100 electric scooters for use in select areas of the city. Attendees can watch demonstrations about how to use the machines — which cost $1 to activate and then 25 cents per minute to ride —
and receive free helmets and T-shirts. The pilot program is the result of a more than year-long journey of research and contract negotiations, Deputy City Manager Joey Dunn said. Other companies the city considered include Bird and Gotcha, but the San Antonio-based Blue Duck Scooters was the first to meet all Bryan’s needs, from city controlled service areas to one-hour response time when complaints are made.
“We wanted to work with a company that we knew could do a good job, and we feel that’s the case based on references, our conversations and the agreement we have with this company,” Dunn said. “We believe they can deliver, but we also know this is a trial period, and we will see how it goes.”
Blue Duck staff will distribute scooters throughout the city at 7 a.m. every day and gather them at 10 p.m. to recharge and perform maintenance at a Blue Duck shop near downtown.
The city can end the pilot program at any time if it is dissatisfied with the service and can choose to extend it by 30-day increments before selecting a longer-term contract. But the future of the scooters in Bryan depends on how people react during the trial, Dunn said, as city representatives will be collecting data on how frequently they are used before moving forward.
Blue Duck is a smaller company than others the city considered, with just more than a year servicing cities including Corpus Christi, Laredo and Edinburg. While this means the company doesn’t have the power of larger competitors, Government Relations Manager Alec Martinez said Blue Duck sees its size as an advantage.
“We are incredibly flexible and agile, and Texas is our neighborhood, so we care very deeply about making sure that our neighbors are safe,” Martinez said.
Bryan residents can use the scooters predominantly in the Downtown and Blinn College area on streets with speed limits less than 35 miles per hour, but Blue Duck also will be able to adjust the geofence to allow scooters to be used in other areas for events if the city chooses. Users will be able to see where they are allowed to ride and park when they download the app. Scooters will slow to a stop if they are taken outside of the designated areas.
Dunn said the city also was interested in Blue Duck because it hires full-time employees from the areas they operate rather than contracting labor, as other rideshare companies tend to operate.
Martinez said Blue Duck has hired four people in Bryan so far and is looking for others to join the team. Some employees include people who can pick up and distribute scooters each day, but Martinez said the team also requires mechanics, engineers and other skill sets.
Anyone who rides an electric scooter in Bryan must be at least 18 years old and observe the same laws as other vehicles. Only one person can be on each scooter, and anyone under 21 is required to wear a helmet. Riders can request a free helmet at flyblueduck.com.
“We are really excited to be operating in Bryan,” Martinez said. “This program is entirely in the hands of the city and the people, all that we ask is for you to let us show you that we are committed.”