By: Lesley Brown
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Cityscoot – still floating in Paris, and beyond
Pavements in Paris have become hot property. Particularly since the roll-out of free-floating bikes in 2017, tension is rising over this increasingly precious public space.
Despite the furore, Cityscoot, the French, electric scooter start-up, has been free floating in the capital since 2016. And unlike some of those bikes it is still afloat… and even reaching out further.
During a press conference on 26 April, president-founder Bertrand Fleurose gave journalists plenty of facts and figures about the company’s Paris operations (the city plus four border towns), of which:
- 150 fixed contract staff
- one scooter hired every eight seconds
- 7,000 to 9,000 trips daily
- 75,000 users
- free training session offered to all new subscribers; 57% of beginners take advantage; to date, 6,000 sessions delivered
- fleet to double to 3,400 scooters by end-2018 = people in Paris and the four border towns should never be (more or less) 100 metres from… a Cityscoot
- average user is around 35-years-old and “quite sensible”
Other features of note are the 85 ‘Citylooper’ operators travelling around to keep an eye on the scooters and recharge their batteries. One operator looks after 20 scooters, inspecting each one on average every 48 hours, 24/7.
All the electricity used for the batteries and the Citylooper vans is green (contains a percentage generated by renewable energy sources like hydraulic, wind, photovoltaic, and biomass). “By end-2018 we will have 32, 100% green electric vans running,” said Mr Fleurose. “They are specially fitted out and represent a huge investment for us.”
What’s new? Improvements to the mobile app include a radar, which notifies users when a scooter is free; multi-language and payment functions; a loyalty programme; a ‘flag up’ space for alerting Cityscoot about any issues – “which will help us improve the service,” added Mr Fleurose.
A new-generation scooter with a new transmission will give more power when starting off and riding uphill. Also, users can pilot their acceleration (Gentle – Medium – Fast) via the ‘Ecran Boost’ function on the app, depending on their riding experience.
Money matters: in January 2018, through its subsidiary RATP Capital Innovation and together with InVenture Partners, Groupe RATP invested 40 million euros in Cityscoot.
While the start-up is not yet profitable, it hopes to reach a budget balance for the Paris business by end-2018.
Turf wars. Where does Cityscoot stand? “We are pro-active,” said Mr Fleurose. “Our 85 Cityloopers take photos of badly parked scooters and send them to our office. We notify the rider by email and issue a warning. If they persist, we suspend their subscription. It’s all about educating our users and since most of them are regular riders, the problem sorts itself out.”
Relations with local authorities? “We discuss the best conditions for providing a good service with them prior to deployment,” said Mr Fleurose.
The process, he explained, involves a feasibility study with the authorities in question, followed by trials – which ran for six to seven months for Paris and have been underway in Nice now for two months. Cityscoot studies the feedback then launches. Contact with the authorities is maintained after roll-out.
Tipping point? The workforce is set to increase to over 200 fixed contract staff by end-2018 (for the Paris operations and elsewhere). By end 2019, there should be a 10,000 Cityscoots in cities both in France and abroad.
“When the number of trips per scooter drops this will indicate we have reached a tipping point,” said Mr Fleurose. “But we’re not there yet.”
Watch this, and that space…
Cover photo: cityscoot.eu