UC Berkeley announced plans to work with e-scooter and e-bike rental services to offer discounts and memberships that are “affordable and equitable” to students.
A campus email sent Friday highlighted the rentals as a “sustainable” transportation alternative, adding that they can help fight climate change, noise pollution and traffic congestion, and would fill transportation gaps where bus services may be inadequate.
“Micromobility is a key to reducing our dependence on automobiles and helping our residents get around sustainably,” said Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson in an email. “I mostly get around on my own bike and by bus, but I have found our shared scooter and e-bike program incredibly useful, countless times.”
In May, micromobility companies such as Superpedestrian, Veo and Spin launched their electric scooter and bike rental services in Berkeley following the city council’s approval of the Shared Electric Micromobility Permit Program.
The campus email noted that while the devices can be used by the campus community, they are not available to be used or parked on central campus areas.
However, it added that the campus department of parking and transportation is working with the vendors to make memberships affordable, including discounts and monthly and semesterly passes. Campus plans to launch the updates by the end of the fall semester.
According to Veo spokesperson Monica DiLullo, there has been an uptick in ridership since students returned to campus a few weeks ago.
DiLullo said Veo is excited to continue working with campus and the city to expand their service area and open the campus to ridership, as well as provide the “most accessible low income program available.”
Campus graduate student Han Zhang said the e-scooter has been “very helpful” for him, noting that walking from Southside to classes on the northside takes him half an hour — with an e-scooter, it takes him around seven minutes.
However, Zhang said the cost is “pricy” — around $3 or $4 for each of his rides — and that constant use of the e-scooter makes it expensive over a longer period of time.
Reacting to campus plans to make the cost of e-bikes and e-scooters cheaper, Zhang expressed optimism.
“A student pass and monthly pass would be definitely very helpful,” Zhang said. “I would be the first one to sign up.”
Campus electrical engineering postdoctoral student Chun-Yuan Fan, welcomed the addition of the devices in Berkeley, noting the “very steep” hill on campus. Fan said it would make commuting much easier.
Reacting to the campus plans, he emphasized that the prices should be affordable for students.
“Students can take the bus for free, but sometimes they have to go to a location where the bus doesn’t arrive,” Fan said. “With a scooter and bike, it would be very convenient. If the price is affordable, it would be very good for students.”