OAKLAND — The latest tech firm to offer smartphone-backed transportation in Oakland made its debut Friday, as the moped rental startup Revel began depositing a fleet of Vespa-style electric motorcycles on the city’s streets.
The company plans to roll out 1,000 of its black and baby blue mopeds — which have a top speed of 30 miles per hour, can carry two passengers and are meant to be driven in normal traffic lanes rather than bike lanes or sidewalks — in the coming weeks.
New York-based Revel is the latest startup specializing in what’s known as micro-mobility to use Oakland’s streets as a proving ground for its business. It follows a slate of electric scooter rental companies that have emerged seemingly overnight as a popular way for riders to zip around the city.
Transportation officials hope those rental options will make residents less dependent on cars and ultimately reduce traffic and emissions by providing another way for people to make relatively short trips — say, from home to a restaurant a mile and a half away — that many now take in private vehicles.
“Services such as shared mopeds can help Oaklanders access jobs, grocery stores, transit and more, without the burden of private vehicle ownership,” Oakland Department of Transportation Director Ryan Russo said in a joint statement issued by the city and Revel.
Riders familiar with the process of renting an electric scooter will find the experience with Revel similar.
They start by pulling up the company’s app, which shows them the locations of nearby mopeds available for rent.
Then riders use the app to unlock the moped, each of which has a pair of helmets stashed in a storage compartment, paying $1 per person to start the trip and 29 cents per minute to ride. Discounts are available for active military and veterans, as well as anyone participating in local, state or federal assistance programs.
Company officials pledged that the vehicles would be available “from Rockridge to East Oakland.” As of Saturday morning, though, the app showed clusters of scooters in neighborhoods near Downtown, around Lake Merritt and in North and West Oakland — but none east of Park Boulevard.
At the end of their trip, riders will need to find parking spaces within Oakland’s city limits where they can deposit their moped. Under an agreement with the city, the vehicles can be left in any legal parking space, including metered spaces; anyone who parks illegally will have to pay for parking tickets their moped receives.
Before they can rent a scooter, riders will need to upload photos of their drivers’ licenses and photos of themselves to confirm they are 21 or older and “do not have a history of reckless driving,” Revel officials wrote. The company also offers in-person training for new riders.
Oakland is the fifth city where riders can rent Revel scooters and the first on the West Coast. The company, which launched in 2018, is also available in New York, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas.