Electric motor scooters came at dawn. Slowly, at first, but then, truck after truck. They were parked in the densely populated (and mostly affluent) neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, such as Williamsburg, Park Slope, Long Island City, and Astoria.
New Yorkers are accustomed to quick changes, but the Vespa-style scooters of a black and bright blue of a startup called Revel keep coming soon, with more than 100 videos a day, until 1,000 people are parked in the streets of the city in just one week.
Scooters are a remarkable change in the landscape of the two most populated boroughs of the city. And although it is the first service of its kind in the city, Revel seems to have found its place in the daily life of its inhabitants. While Revel will not say exactly how many rides have been taken, the two co-founders of the company say The edge They saw four to five rides per day on each electric motor scooter just three days after the start of the deployment, with no paid advertising.
"It was pretty cool, Saturday and Sunday, to look at our map of background operations, to see 150 rents moving out at a time," says Frank Reig, CEO and co-founder. "People went everywhere with that, it's exciting."
Revel organized his blitzkrieg in the cavernous and rusty building 269 of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Originally a boat building, the building has lived many different lives. He currently belongs to Agger Fish Corp., which is turned into a press center for Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders. primary debate in 2016. The fishing company also maintains a corner of the building dedicated to aged beer in barrels for the Brooklyn Brewery.
When I visited Revel midway through its deployment, some 350 of its electric scooters were arranged in rows occupying most of the floor space of Building 269. They still had the final touches before to be felt in the streets. The workers tightened the handlebars, tested the horns and other warning sounds and checked the headlights.
When they took their meal (pizza, of course, since it was Brooklyn), Reig and his co-founder and operations director, Paul Suhey, sat down to discuss the deployment progress and expose their plans for the service.
The two wheels of Revel are technically mopeds, although they do not have pedals, and that they are limited to 30 miles at the hour. This classification allows them to live in a kind of environment between motorcycles and motorcycles, according to Reig and Suhey. You do not need a motorcycle license to sign up for Revel, but you need a driver's license, and they can not be legally driven on bike lanes.
But the Revel mopeds look a lot like the Vespa style scooters, both by their style and their way of driving, and since the beginning of the service for over a week, almost everyone to whom I 'm going has been. I talked about them called scooters. It's also what stops me, even though people have a hard time believing I'm talking about service scooters like Bird or Lime.
Revel works the same way as shared scooter services (as well as other Vespa-style shared services like Scoot in San Franciscoor Coup in Paris). It costs $ 19 to register. Once you're there, you can find the scooters on a map in the Revel app. Touch a scooter on the map to book it (up to 15 minutes in advance) or book right away. Each trip costs $ 1 on departure ($ 2 if you have someone with you), then $ 0.25 per minute. If you want to stop but you do not want to abandon the scooter for now, you can "pause" the ride in the app, and the fare goes to $ 0.10 per minute.
At the end of your journey, you park the scooter in the street, and Revel offers tips on the application, in the best places to insert them, as at the end of a block. You can also see how many thousands of batteries are left on a given scooter. The lowest number I spotted was nine thousand, close to the threshold where a Revel employee will come to exchange the two batteries of the scooter for news.
However, there are some major differences in how this service compares to the world's birds. The Revel Customer Service team checks each new applicant's driver's license against a DMV database to determine if it is current and if the person has not been tested. history of deplorable driving. This license-based system also helps accountability, says Suhey. If a person parks a scooter in the wrong place, such as on the sidewalk or in a restricted parking area, that customer is required to hang up for a ticket or finish for the next 24 hours (unless of course the scooter is taken by someone else).
Each scooter also comes with two helmets, one large and one small, which are enclosed in the rear compartment. These helmets are cleaned "every two or three days," says Suhey.
He also emphasizes that it is not just about keeping your helmets clean. Field technicians also check the overall condition of each scooter according to the same program, measuring tire pressure and making sure nothing is wrong. "This is only a general safety inspection," says Suhey. "It's important to us that, not only do you have a consistent quality experience with the moped's cleanliness, it's also safe every time you ride it."
Revel hopes to get years of life with every scooter, and full-time staff to make more comprehensive repairs when needed. In fact, Suhey says the 40 Revel employees are all full-time, with health insurance and benefits. This includes half a dozen customer service employees, as well as approximately 16 employees.
Most of the time, I had no problems with the cleanliness or quality of the scooters during 10 different hikes during the first week of Revel. I was already driving scooters with zero kilometers, 60 miles and 130 miles, and the worst problems I saw were a slightly loose handlebar handle and a broken phone holder. That said, the service experienced downtime Thursday due to connectivity issues.
I spent $ 69.03 for these 10 rides, for an average of just under $ 7 per round. The most expensive trip I took took 52 minutes, traveled 6 km and cost $ 14.26. (This included two short stops where I "stopped" the trip, lowering the rate to $ 0.10 per minute). The tours I took were not so quiet and cost between $ 2.50 and $ 10, the cheapest being $ 1.91 – a quick getaway on 7th Avenue when I had little time.
Some of these figures are probably even swollen by my enthusiasm to use this service, as two of my trips lasted almost an hour. In the last 10 months, Revel has used a pilot version of the service in New York with just 68 scooters. Suhey says that about 50% of these trips lasted less than 15 minutes and more than one-third less than 10 minutes.
The problem is that the cost of the service will land somewhere between a subway or bus ride ($ 2.75) and the coming of a Uber or a Lyft. This is on purpose, say the co-founders of Revel.
"How much have we talked about pricing in the last six months?", Asks Reig in response to my question. "Fourteen times a day," Suhey replies.
"One of our main goals with the pricing model we have is simplicity," says Suhey. "We want it to be easy to understand and easy to communicate, this is a new service, we are having difficulty in many aspects of user training." But as many of the pilot project people wanted to use Revel only as a ultimate option (or more), the co-founders opted for this pricing structure.
"I think we're exactly in the field we need to be: cheaper than a Uber Pool ride, but you get there as quickly as a Uber X ride," Reig says.
That said, Suhey says that Revel is considering other options, such as a membership model or the option to buy "hours" at a time. The company is already offering a 40% discount to people who are eligible or actively participating in assistance programs run by local, state or federal governments.
Browsing Brooklyn on a Revel scooter is fun, but it also frees. It's like riding a bike without any work, with the added bonus of being able to drive cars away from you. I liked it more than using an electric skateboardor even an e-bike – especially because I could get away from it after each trip.
Most importantly, scooters are fast enough to maneuver and track traffic in New York, although Revel recommends users do not take them to bridges or highways.
Scooters do not make noise. In fact, they are silent. On one side, it's nice: after all, they are electric, which is better for commuting than emitting greenhouse gases. And it helps you to hear your environment better.
But others can not hear you come, which can be dangerous. At least five times while I was driving a Revel scooter, pedestrians passed me. I am not about to cut anyone, but I can see that the danger is there. New Yorkers love walking, walking around the traffic lights, so hopefully they'll come and be ready to face them.
There is a respectable horn, which helps. And one of the best features of the scooter is that it will beep when you operate the turn signal, which will help you at intersections. (The signal also turns off automatically after your turn, which – as a forgetful klutz – is one of my favorite things about the scooter.)
The US government is currently developing a law that will require electric and hybrid vehicles to emit low-speed noise so that pedestrians know they're coming, but it was delayedwhich does not help the Revel runners now. When I asked Suhey about it, I replied with the standard line "Safety is our number one priority". But, I added, if the company thought that a noise emitter would enhance the safety of the Revel fleet, it "would be quite open to that".
Otherwise, it's really amazing what Revel did. He has deployed 1,000 electric scooters on the streets of two of New York City's largest boroughs – the same city that has almost completely resisted any service other than Citi Bike. Stroll through the neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens where Revel scooters are allowed to go. It will probably take you only a few minutes for someone to pass next to one of them.
For now, Revel scooters are only located in New York, kids, only in New York. There will surely be problems when the Revel scooters are mistreated by the concrete jungle. Reig and Suhey say they would like to cover more districts and expand to others. But now? "We have to make sure that people love us, to make sure that it brings added value to the community and … that's all." "Dead stop." That's all we need to do "said Reig.
Photograph of Sean O'Kane / The Verge