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City to Expand Scooter Share to Eastern Queens

All three of the scooter-share companies that have been providing service in The Bronx since 2021 will be part of a massive expansion of the program into transit-deprived areas of eastern Queens, the Department of Transportation announced on Thursday.

Scooters, seen here on E. Gun Hill Road in The Bronx, will be coming to Queens, DOT announced on Thursday. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Queens — you're getting scooters.

All three of the scooter-share companies that have been providing service in The Bronx since 2021 will be part of a massive expansion of the program into transit-deprived areas of eastern Queens, the Department of Transportation announced on Thursday.

The out-of-the-blue press release touted the existing Bronx program's success — more than two million trips, 115,470 unique users, very low injuries, many commutes shortened — as evidence that Queens will benefit greatly.

“E-scooters and other forms of micromobility will help us build a cleaner and greener transportation system that connects residents to commercial and transit hubs,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “Our pilot program met and exceeded our ambitious goals — and it’s time we make it available in more neighborhoods.”

The initial DOT press release did not specify which neighborhoods will get Lime, Bird and Veo scooters beyond saying, "eastern Queens" and that the program "will primarily include Tier 1 and Tier 2 priority investment areas over roughly 20 square miles, from Flushing and Auburndale to the north down to Rochdale Village and Springfield Gardens to the south."

"Exact program boundaries are still being determined based on community feedback," the press release said, but the zone is expected to comprise 600,000 residents.

Nor did the initial information say how many scooters will be deployed; in The Bronx, the numbers are capped at 6,000. It did say that service will begin in Queens in 2024.

Thursday's announcement builds on the DOT's professed success with its program in The Bronx. In November, the agency released a report that touted the improvement in mobility within historically underserved communities and boosting “last-mile” connections to subway stations, bus, and ferry stops.

"Ridership was high on commercial corridors and near MTA transit, including subway stations, bus and ferry stops," the report showed.

It also said there had been no fatalities, which the report credited to some key safety features that were required under the pilot — such as speed limits, in-app training, a "Beginner Mode," and no overnight use for new riders. Those safety features will continue in the expansion, DOT said.

Residents of NYCHA houses or recipients of any local, state, or federal assistance program will continue to get discounted scooter-share rates.

The DOT press release only featured one local pol — but a crucial one: Council Transportation Committee Chair Selvena Brooks-Powers, who has long called for greater equity in transportation, though has resisted efforts to rein in automobiles in her district, which has the deadliest roads in the city.

"I celebrate the extension of DOT’s e-scooter sharing program to transit desert neighborhoods like communities I represent in Southeast Queens that have been long underserved by public transit,” she said.

In its own press release — the one issued earlier on Thursday — Lime claimed that it's the big fish.

"Of the two million e-scooter trips recorded so far, Lime riders have taken nearly 875,000 of them, or more than 43 percent of all rides," the company said.

"We’ve built our program on safety, equity, and community by hosting countless ... safe riding courses, our Lime Access program providing discounted rides to those who are most in need of affordable transportation, and community programs like our Lime to the Polls initiatives,” said Phil Jones, the company's senior director of Government Relations.

In its own statement, Bird said that its scooters carried more than 570,000 rides since the pilot began.

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