Despite banning them last year, the Waco City Council is set to allow electric scooters and bicycles back on the streets starting this June.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[Waco] is expected to approve a one-year contract with Gotcha Bikes LLC later this month to place 50 electric-assist bikes and 50 electric scooters for rent in the city.” The contract will come with an option to renew the deal at the end of the year.
Inexplicably, this decision took over a year of deliberation to reach. Apparently even in conservative Central Texas, lawmakers believe it is their right to keep private companies from doing business in their jurisdiction, even when the service provides convenience to the people the lawmakers represent.
To add insult to injury, the City of Waco is using the introduction of this company as an excuse to expand local government—planning to hire at least one full-time employee to manage the program and several others on a part-time basis to distribute the vehicles throughout the city.
The city is also placing restrictions on where the vehicles can be used, as well as the time periods in which they will be available for rent.
Though it is undoubtedly positive that Waco has finally decided to allow the electric scooter industry to expand to the city, citizens are right to be frustrated with the delays and onerous restrictions being imposed.
Furthermore, why should Waco be facilitating the program in the first place? Would it not be more efficient and consistent with the concept of free enterprise for the companies themselves to manage the rentals, similar to other scooter companies such as Bird and Lime?
If major scooter rental companies were allowed to operate unencumbered, not only would the services they provide improve the city, but jobs would be created as well. Both Bird and Lime give people the opportunity to earn extra money by charging the scooters, which could be a significant economic boost in a city like Waco, where many citizens are economically distressed.
Government shouldn’t be in the business of choosing which companies can and cannot operate in their jurisdiction, thereby restricting access to services which make life easier.
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