It was a pleasant surprise to see a new company enter the burgeoning electric scooter market in Kansas City. However, upon closer inspection of the new orange and white scooters, it became obvious that they were not rolled out by a new company; these new scooters are controlled by RideKC.
RideKC is the regional transit group responsible for the Kansas City streetcar. RideKC’s initiatives are largely funded by city taxpayers, and this latest venture is no exception. The cities of Kansas City, MO and North Kansas City, MO are both listed as public funders of the scooter project.
Eric Vaughan, bike share director for local advocacy group BikeWalkKC, commented on the scooter project:
RideKC is the only transit authority in the country that's now integrating scooters as part of the regional transit network, which really goes to show how progressive our team here in Kansas City has been with their approach.
This raises an obvious question: If private companies are already putting electric scooters on the streets, why is taxpayer money being used so that the Kansas City transit authority can enter the market?
Bird is a company that consistently has scooters on the streets in Kansas City. Lime has had scooters in the area as well, and a company owned by Ford called SPIN will be placing scooters in Kansas City later this year. Scooters are widely available, and the companies’ use of private chargers and mechanics ensures that scooters are in good shape and located in well-trafficked areas. Lime’s 2018 year-end report claimed that 31,000 Kansas Citians used Lime scooters in a three month period.
The scooter market in Kansas City seems to be doing just fine without government help. If private companies are already providing services, why is our government spending taxpayer dollars on those services as well?