First there was car-sharing, then bikes, then motor-scooters, then electric bikes; now Brussels residents will be able to take out a subscription allowing them to take an electric scooter for a ride. The latest entrant into the race to get the population to give up the car is Troty, a Brussels start-up which will make 50 electric scooters available for hire from 29 June in the capital.
“I got the idea for the company Bird in San Francisco,” said Jean-Paul de Ville, one of Troty’s founders. The name, incidentally, comes from the French word for a child’s scooter – the rather charming trottinette. Dutch goes with the rather more staid step.
He himself gave up his personal vehicle last January to move across to a car-sharing scheme, but often found there was such demand he had to walk 15 to 20 minutes to find an available vehicle, he told Le Soir. “On a whim I got myself a scooter, and suddenly everything was closer to home.”
In its first stages, Troty will be available in Etterbeek, Ixelles and Brussels-City only, with 50 vehicles available in all. The company aims to start small, but it has already 2,500 subscribers.
As is always the case these days, the system works via an app linked to the subscriber’s credit card, which operates as lock and key for the scooter. There’s an initial charge of one euro, and a running charge of 15c per minute thereafter. A ten-minute ride, then, would cost €2.50 – the same as a single bus ticket.
The scooters can be recharged by being deposited at partner businesses, indicated by the app. Otherwise they will be recharged once a day by a specially equipped collection van.
“We would hope to be able to reduce our tariffs when we have more vehicles,” De Ville said. “If all goes well, in two months we will be ordering more scooters.” The company also has plans to extend the scheme in 2019 to Antwerp, Mechelen and Ghent.