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Scooter share program leaving Hartford at year's end

FILE- A Link scooter on a sidewalk in Austin, Texas, March 11, 2023. The company operating LINK scooters in Hartford is ceasing operations in the U.S. leaving officials to look for a new provider.
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FILE- A Link scooter on a sidewalk in Austin, Texas, March 11, 2023. The company operating LINK scooters in Hartford is ceasing operations in the U.S. leaving officials to look for a new provider.

The capital city is losing a popular transportation program in the new year.

The operator of the Link scooter share program, which allows users to rent electric scooters via a smartphone app and ride them around Hartford, is ceasing U.S. operations at the end of 2023.

Superpedestrian, the Massachusetts-based company, did not immediately return a request for comment. Local officials said they were discouraged by the decision.

“Although it’s disappointing that Superpedestrian will be ending their operations in the United States, the City of Hartford remains committed to supporting multimodal transit, including the operation of e-scooters,” outgoing Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said.

“But I hope and believe that the experience here in Hartford will make Hartford really attractive to a new provider to come in and provide a similar service,” Bronin said. “It’s pretty clear that the demand was strong, it’s pretty clear that it mattered and made a difference.”

The mayor and the Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) said they will be actively seeking a new operator for a similar scooter share program in 2024.

Some transportation advocates fear what the loss of the program will mean for hundreds of frequent riders, many of whom are low-income Hartford residents without cars of their own.

“It’s going to be devastating,” said Jay Stange, coordinator of Transport Hartford Academy, an advocacy group housed within the nonprofit Center for Latino Progress. “There were 460,000 rides from early 2021 until the present time. You know, that’s a half a million rides that are really expensive to replace.”

Stange said the loss of the scooters is compounded for low-income commuters by the loss of free transit fares in April.

“I think that probably our youth who need to get to things after school and to get to jobs and to get to programs are the ones who are going to suffer, and going forward I think it's going to be really even more important that we can get a K-12 bus pass system in place here in Connecticut,” Stange said.

Superpedestrian operated scooter share programs in 18 U.S. cities, including Chicago; Eugene, Ore.; Asbury Park, N.J.; and Waco, Texas.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.

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