How are electric scooters in Tampa going to boost the quality of living for the City of Tampa? By offering easy, fuel-efficient transportation.
Booming economies in Tampa have attracted newcomers in recent years. The influx of new development and transplants means a renewed energy and enthusiasm for the region. Areas of Tampa Bay, known for being run down, are now home to mixed-use projects thanks to a city-wide commitment to new development.
While development and population trends bode well for the largest metropolitan areas in Central Florida, the region is still trying to address quality of life issues. That includes mobility — making it easier for residents to get around, to visit the new attractions and to leave their car behind.
That’s a key reason why the city of Tampa has decided to give its residents and visitors alike a new option for exploring the city, for getting around without the risk of running into heavy traffic on the highways. Starting in 2019, Tampa Bay is rolling out its latest transportation option: Electric Scooters.
Tampa’s government recently decided to invest in this new urban trend. Three electric scooter rental companies were asked to submit applications to bring this technology to the city by February 2019.
The idea is to give Tampa’s residents and visitors the ability to navigate the city’s sidewalks and multi-use paths on scooters. For a city like Tampa, which has plenty to do and lots of newcomers moving in, this seems like an investment that’s going to pay off.
Why Are Cities Investing In Electric Scooters?
Today, electric is the new fuel of choice. There’s been a lot of investment in the past decade into electricity as an innovative, domestically produced transportation fuel — one that could help launch a new generation of transportation that reduces dependence on foreign oil and becomes the tipping point for a wave of new transportation options.
Much of the impetus behind electric vehicles isn’t just to offer more options for commuters, but for environmental reasons as well. As researchers have pointed out, driving an electric vehicle emits 54% fewer carbon dioxide emissions per mile than the average new gasoline-fueled car. And electric vehicles are also far more cost-effective since EV drivers spend the equivalent of about $1.20 per gallon compared to gas-fueled autos.
This new technology is expected to soar in popularity. The sale of electric vehicles is forecast to exceed 1.2 million per year by 2025. It’s no wonder then that so many cities want in on this technology, which gives residents a cost-effective, environmentally friendly means of getting around.
Electric scooters are already popular in cities like San Francisco, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and New York. While costs can vary, it can cost as little as $1 to start riding. The system is often set up with a downloadable app, which enables riders to enter a credit card, scan the barcode on the scooter, and unlock it to begin riding.
In San Francisco, two companies are offering different kinds of scooters. One type has a removable battery, while another has a larger fixed battery that goes a range of 20 miles. The electric scooter companies frequently host community outreach events that teach customers how to safely ride and park scooters, and some even offer free helmets.
The manufacturers of electric scooters are quick to point out that they’re very portable, some weighing just 26 pounds and capable of being folded. For example, with some scooters, you can simply fold it, extend the handle, then roll it behind you as if you were moving luggage at the airport.
They often have a low recharge time of just 3.5 hours.
And they’ve become a particularly appealing option for those who not only want a fun and convenient way to get around but also like the idea of minimizing their carbon footprint and helping to reduce greenhouse emissions.
What Does The City Hope to Accomplish?
The idea of bringing grab-and-go electric scooters to Tampa is simple: let people pick up the scooters wherever they find them and ride them as far as they want to go. Once they’re done, leave the scooters where you’ve decided to stop your journey, and the next person can find it there and use it.
Electric scooters, which can generally run about 8 mph, become a pleasant way to explore the city without needing a car, parking space, or meter to feed.
With electric scooters becoming increasingly popular in other cities, Tampa has decided to ride this wave as well. Last September, the City announced it was accepting applications for a dockless motorized scooter pilot program that city leaders hoped to start by January — with scooters becoming available to the public in February. The city is asking each company to provide up to 300 scooters, with the goal of bringing in 1,800 in total.
As Florida law dictates, the scooters will only be allowed on sidewalks or multi-use paths, not in the streets or along bike paths. As with other cities, the scooters will be available to use, courtesy of an app that users can download onto their smartphone.
The scooters are going to be available south of E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, between Armenia Avenue and N 40th Street. The city is also planning to set up 180 parking corrals throughout the service zones, with each one holding 10 scooters.
This is expected to be a year-long pilot program, during which time the city will measure the technology offered by each applicant, then select a final vendor by the end of the year to continue this as a permanent program.
And Tampa may not be alone in this experiment.
St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman, has also expressed interest in bringing electric scooters to his city. He even sent out a message on Twitter noting that “We still have a way to go and some issue to work through in order to get these on our streets, but I remain committed to diversifying transit in the Burg.”
Worth The Investment?
In a lot of ways, the issue of offering electric scooters in Tampa is about far more than just tapping into a burgeoning trend. City leaders often view transportation as being more than just a quality of life issue. It’s also an incentive to help promote additional economic development.
Having different transit options available to city residents enhances the city’s appeal to new businesses.
That’s one reason why this new mode of public transportation will soon be available for Tampa residents and visitors; it’s one of the numerous options that the city is exploring.
Train service is another plan in the works.
The Florida Department of Transportation has been negotiating with a private firm to create a high-speed rail from Orlando to Tampa. Those train lines would be built by Brightline, a privately-run passenger-rail service now operating in South Florida. If these plans move forward, the high-speed train could be operating by 2021.
In both cases, the timing could be ideal. Tampa Bay currently has one of the fastest growing economies in the state, with the unemployment rate here at 2.9 percent in September, well below the national average. The bay area also added 49,800 jobs over the past year.
A lot of people are attracted to the city because of that job growth, but also because of the city’s nightlife, cultural attractions, historic venues, major theme parks like Busch Gardens and proximity to the beaches. There’s a lot to see, and do, and enjoy in Tampa Bay.
And people are also attracted to the city’s housing market, where homes remain more affordable than in many other large cities. According to the real estate website Zillow, the median home value in Tampa is $216,100; Tampa home values have risen 11.3% over the past year.
The median price of homes currently listed in Tampa is $309,900. That’s considerably more affordable than in cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York City.
The addition of new transportation options like electric scooters is one more piece of the puzzle that Tampa officials have successfully been working towards for the past decade: to combine a thriving jobs market and a strong but affordable housing market with a high and improving quality of life.
Tampa Bay already has a winning combination right now of a strong economy, more commercial development in the city, and a healthy and vibrant housing market.
That’s a key reason why so many people are moving to Tampa; they are in search of new opportunities. Giving residents and visitors more transportation options, from the use of electric scooters to a high-speed train, is likely to help make Tampa Bay even more attractive as a permanent home.
The people moving to Tampa for the jobs and high quality of life are also helped by the presence of builders like Domain Homes, busy constructing new houses in Tampa.
Domain Homes procures older, dilapidated houses in some of the city’s most appealing neighborhoods, and replaces them with brand new, move-in ready homes.
The neighborhoods that Domain Homes builds in include highly sought-after, established neighborhoods like:
- South Tampa
- The Heights
- St. Petersburg
- West Tampa/North Hyde Park
These locations are close to the top-rated school districts, the downtown cultural amenities and shopping, and to jobs centers.
Contact Domain Homes today at 813-580-8111 to learn more about the homes we have available today to match your dream of homeownership in the Tampa Bay area.