WT, City of Canyon bring Bird scooters to campus and community

By Chip Chandler

West Texas A&M University and the City of Canyon are partnering with a national leader in electric transportation to bring e-scooters to campus.

Bird’s eco-friendly transportation option can be activated through Bird’s free mobile phone app and used to conveniently commute across campus or replace car trips when going to the store, meeting up with friends, exploring the community and taking many other daily trips.

“We are thrilled to welcome Bird to WT and look forward to offering our students and Canyon residents a new, eco-friendly and fun way to get around,” said Mike Knox, vice president for student enrollment, engagement and success. “This also will help with parking congestion when we have major events on campus, like football games at Buffalo Stadium.”

The scooters will be welcomed in a launch event at 11:30 a.m. March 1 in front of the University Dining Hall on the Canyon campus.

Thirty scooters will be available for rent on the WT campus. An additional 40 will be located in the city of Canyon itself for community members to rent.

WT’s Student Government Association has led the effort to bring scooters to campus.

“WT administrators came to SGA with the need for some kind of ride-share program on campus,” said Bryan Garcia, SGA president. “We get a lot of parking complaints, especially on cold days, when people drive from their residence hall to their classroom building. We hope that by making these scooters available, students and everyone else on campus will have a quick, convenient way to get around on campus and clear up some parking congestion.”

Throughout the multi-year process, the SGA’s Student Affairs Committee researched different options, drafted an RFP and contracts, and worked with administrators and City of Canyon leaders.

“We’ve gotten to navigate a bunch of spaces that aren’t usually navigated by students,” Garcia said. “We met with 15 or more departments on campus to pitch the idea and get their support.”

“I’ve been quite impressed with the work these students have done,” said Randy Rikel, vice president for business and finance. “We gave them the opportunity to lead this effort, and they have surpassed our expectations.”

Scooters will be deployed in key locations around campus and will be picked up by a local logistics partner nightly.

For the safety of riders and pedestrians alike, scooters will be geofenced so that they are not operative around Buffalo Fountain on the Charles K. and Barbara Kerr Vaughn Pedestrian Mall; within the gates of Buffalo Stadium; and around the square in downtown Canyon.

Users can download the free Bird app, locate nearby scooters, then scan a QR code to unlock it and ride. Scooters will cost $1 to unlock, with a per-minute fee thereafter. A map showing the scooters’ coverage area also is available on the app.

Bird’s inclusive Community Pricing Program offers a 50 percent discount to low-income riders, Pell grant recipients, select local nonprofit and community organizations, veterans and senior citizens. Those who qualify can sign up by downloading the Bird app, creating an account and emailing proof of eligibility to access@bird.co.

Anyone with a Bird account also may report or provide feedback on vehicle-related issues such as poorly parked or damaged vehicles in their area by tapping the yield sign on the bottom left of the in-app Bird map. When a report is submitted, someone is assigned to correct the issue.

Canyon city commissioners passed an ordinance in 2021 to allow such ride-share scooters to be used in town, said Jon Behrens, assistant city manager.

“Canyon is growing, and a big part of that is because of WT, so we’re happy to work together to provide a new, green mode of transportation around town,” Behrens said.

WT and the City required several safety measures be included in the contract with Bird, Behrens said, including proper lighting, a 15-mph maximum speed, regular maintenance reports and more. In specifically geofenced areas, the maximum speed limit is 10 mph.

The scooter program will complement the continuing free shuttle bus program, which provides free transportation to students, faculty, staff and campus visitors in partnership with Panhandle Community Services and Panhandle Transportation.

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