FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The City of Fort Wayne announced Tuesday it’s ending its partnership with the company that provides electric scooters to rent.
Veo first started the pilot program after getting approval in 2019. The goal was to provide more transportation options, promote travel to businesses and tourist attractions, improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion and connect neighborhoods.
However, from the very beginning, there were concerns voiced about the scooters being left in the middle of sidewalks, reckless operators, and other negligent behavior.
As a result, Veo has been notified it will no longer be allowed to operate effective Sept. 4. In a press release, the city noted that the decision to terminate the partnership was made in conjunction with research about similar shared mobility programs in other cities, both in Indiana and elsewhere.
City officials have expressed that the scooters are deemed hazardous to residents downtown, and they often see more incidents around festival season when more people are out and about.
FWPD Deputy Chief Martin Bender said he knows of at least two instances where the scooters have caught fire due to problems with the battery.
“We’ve had some major issues, public safety concerns with fires as a result of the batteries in these scooters and there have been at least two major fires that I’m aware of,” Bender said in a statement Tuesday. “…And then you have a very hazardous material leftover in these batteries, and they have to have to be disposed of. That gets pretty expensive.”
People in downtown Fort Wayne had mixed feelings regarding the news. You can watch some of their responses below.
Representatives with Veo said they feel blindsided by the announcement to discontinue their contract since they believe they were in compliance with all safety recommendations the city gave them.
Veo Operation Manager Eric Xayarath said he received no prior notice of the city’s public decision to end their contract.
He said in addition to having age restrictions and 24-hour technicians, “… we’ve also implemented geofencing along with no ride zones, slow ride zones, and curfews. With the expertise of the former police department, all those suggestions we’ve incorporated from the city and the police department over the last four years.”
Xayarath ensures safety is Veo’s top priority for riders.