Newark City Council Discusses Scooter Program Successes, Challenges, and Future

In a recent special meeting, the Newark Municipal Council discussed the success and challenges of the Newark Go Bike and Scooter Share Program, contemplated the program’s transition from pilot to permanent status, and explored an ordinance amending the Department of Economic and Housing Development’s housing assistance program. The council also reviewed various resolutions and contracts, with particular attention to those involving redevelopment and tax appeal settlements.

The council’s discussion of the scooter program was the most notable item discussed. They elaborated on the program’s success, comparing its accomplishments with those of similar initiatives in other cities. The council acknowledged the ridership spreading across all wards and lauded the program’s financial aspects, including permit fees set at $125,000 per operator and a 25 cents per trip charge. Operational details were also shared, such as having 15% of vehicles in equity zones and an average of 1,200 vehicles per day.

Councilman Dupre L Kelly, along with others, expressed concerns about nuisance and safety issues due to improper parking of vehicles. He questioned the representatives of the scooter companies VO and Bird, regarding measures in place to address these concerns. The representatives assured Councilman Kelly that they have the ability to escalate violations, including imposing fines and potentially banning individuals responsible for egregious behavior. They also mentioned plans to pilot a 48-hour response time for idle vehicles and emphasized their impeccable safety record.

Councilwoman Louise Scott-Rountree and Councilman Carlos M. Gonzalez raised questions about the number of incidents and accidents that occurred during the pilot program, particularly inquiring about injuries and fatalities. In response, company representatives assured the council that shared devices were not involved in any fatalities during the pilot program and that they keep track of reported accidents.

The scooter program’s community engagement efforts were also discussed. Companies highlighted their commitment to engaging proactively with the community, acknowledging the need to attend ward meetings and directly communicate with residents. The representatives expressed a willingness to work with the council to address specific concerns in different wards and suggested conducting safety classes in Spanish and Portuguese.

The council also addressed concerns about the reporting of scooter-related incidents, suggesting improved outreach between the scooter companies and the Newark Police Department to facilitate the process of submitting requests for information and handling incidents. Councilman C. Lawrence Crump and Councilman Michael J. Silva expressed concerns about underreporting of accidents, particularly in areas with high ridership.

While the council lauded the scooter program’s successes, members also expressed skepticism about various aspects of the scooter operation. Concerns were raised about local hiring practices, the handling of broken scooters, and the availability of relevant data. The company representatives clarified their approach to handling these issues but council members sought further clarification.

Another topic during the meeting was an ordinance amending the Department of Economic and Housing Development’s housing assistance program. Councilman Crump sought clarification on whether the ordinance was limited to purchases through auctions. Deputy Mayor Lad clarified that it applied to any purchase made by a city employee, broadening the scope of the ordinance.

The meeting also addressed several resolutions and contracts, including one authorizing the central planning board to investigate redevelopment needs in the central ward and another stipulating settlements for tax appeals. Councilman Crump requested detailed information about the total amount of settlements for tax appeals and the difference in taxes and settlements.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Ras J Baraka
City Council Officials:
Michael J. Silva, Dupre L Kelly, Louise Scott-Rountree, Luis A. Quintana, C. Lawrence Crump, LaMonica McIver, Patrick O. Council, Anibal Ramos Jr., Carlos M. Gonzalez

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