Can scooters keep people employed? Memphis is going to try it

MEMPHIS, TN – A Memphis-area philanthropist is funding a three-year program to sell hundreds, perhaps thousands, of scooters to area residents who need basic transportation to get to and from work.

Jay Martin, founder of Juice Plus+, has committed $3 million over three years to form My City Rides, which will provide scooters under a lease-to-own program for residents. The goal: Keep people employed by providing them with low-cost transportation — for three bucks a day.

The organization plans to buy roughly 200 169cc SYM scooters during its first year and reportedly has received the first 25 units.

My City Rides aims to solve what it says is a widespread transportation problem in Memphis:  “Across the country, transportation averages 17 percent of income. Here, its 29 percent. Credit is hard to come by, and so are cars, so cars are shared and old…. Bus routes are complicated, transfers are numerous, schedules are sketchy and stops are often far from the job. Late is ordinary, if not missing whole shifts. Losing jobs through no fault of your own is ordinary, if not expected,” the organization states on its website. “My city needs the means to get to work and the reliability and future that will bring. They need the independence of ownership and the credit history that follows. They need insurance and training, and the license and tag that come with it…. And employers need the dependability of all of that, because of the productivity it increases. And all of it has to be affordable.”

My City Rides is renovating a 2,000 sq. ft. commercial space so that the organization can be set up a dealership for the scooters, reported Tom Bailey in The Commercial Appeal.

“The SYM Fiddle III model costs $2,899. My City Rides will provide that bike for $3 a day over three years as a lease-to-own deal,” according to Bailey. Customers pay for the scooters through payroll deductions, which means they’ll already be employed. “The $3 daily for three years amounts to $3,285. While that is $386, or 13 percent, more than list price, the price also covers taxes, fees, any maintenance and repairs, liability insurance, driver training, costs to get a license, and even the helmet.”

My City Rides said on its website that it is applying for 501(c)3 status.

Read more from Bailey’s story HERE