Some students, faculty and staff may have found themselves reaching their meetings, classes and dorms a little bit faster than before starting Friday.
A Santa Monica, California-based startup called Bird brought 75 electric scooters to Abilene and to campus last week in conjunction with the Student Government Association.
The Bird scooters can be activated through phone app and cost $1 initially and 15 cents a minute to use. They can be picked up and left anywhere on campus or throughout Abilene except Jacob’s Dream or inside buildings.
The idea to bring Bird scooters to campus came to Ty Kelley, executive president of the Student Government Association, when he attended a conference in Washington, D.C., this summer alongside other student government officers. While there, the group got into a discussion about the popular D.C. transportation: Birds. The discussion inspired Kelley to use these scooters to service the local students.
“Immediately I thought about our international students who don’t have a car,” said Kelley, senior information systems major from San Antonio. “This would be perfect for them to make a trip to United or to Walmart and especially just students who are running late to class. So it’s kind of the solution to that last-mile transportation problem that exists not only in big cities but in Abilene.”
The process began with discussions involving the administration, the ACU Police Department, facilities, operations and Bird representatives. Open communication between all parties ensured that everyone would be comfortable with the installation of the Bird scooters, Kelley said.
The next step was to meet with the Bird representative to go over logistics, such as where the “nests” would be placed, how many Birds were needed and where the Birds were needed most.
The last step before implementation was to go through the legal paperwork with administration and Bird representatives to ensure that installing the scooters was both a cost-effective and advantageous investment.
Bird took on the entire cost to bring all 75 birds to campus, Kelley said. They even pay $1 a day to the Student Government Association for each Bird on campus. That money is then put into a Student Government Association fund set to improve roads and sidewalks.
Bird is paying students and others $5-$20 to charge the scooters, depending on the Bird’s battery level and how far away the Bird is. Chargers seek out Bird scooters, take them home, charge them and return them to their nexts the next morning.
Those interested in riding the scooters can download the Bird app and type in code FREERIDE to get a free ride up to $5.