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Bird Scooters may not be back
Local investor sought for scooter program
bird scooter
Shown are some of the Bird Scooters that were for rent around Great Bend. After two years, there is a chance they may not be returning to town this year.

There is a strong likelihood  that the rental Bird Scooters, once a ubiquitous site around Great Bend, may not be back this year, Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes told the City Council Monday night. After two years, the local investor spearheading the project has opted  not to re-up with the company, leaving the city scrambling.

“I’m continuing to work on it,” Hayes said. She said anyone interested in stepping in as sponsor for the scooters can contact her.

“But at this point, I don’t have high hopes that we’re going to get Bird back for 2023.” 

The investor took care of all the scooters, Hayes said. They maintained the fleet of 100 two-wheelers, which involved tracking them with GPS, making sure they are recharged, and  picked up and dropped off at various locations.

But, “the local investor has decided to not renew with Bird,” she said. When the city agreed to the idea, officials knew the city didn’t want to be in charge of all the scooters due to the time and effort involved.

Hayes said they city was worried. She requested the usage reports from Bird to an idea of their popularity.

Looking at the numbers for 2021, things looked great. The scooters were used citywide for a total of 10,469 rides and 21,746 miles.

However, 2022 was a different story. There were 4,193 rides covering 8,506 miles. 

“We want these for our community. They’re pretty great. People love them,” Hayes said. They are a great alternative form of transportation and city officials wondered how they could keep this going. 

In the meantime, Bird Company officials had seen the reports. “Bird said, basically, we’re not coming back,” Hayes said. 

“Now what’s happening is we need to look for another local investor,” She said. “And even if we do find one that will partnership with Bird and  follow their rules, it’s not guaranteed that Bird will come back.”

The scooters are part of a global fleet from the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Bird company.

 Riders had to download the company’s app on their cellphone. Generally speaking, users are charged by the minute to ride.

There were 50 scooters to start with, but heavy use soon justified doubling that.

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Approved a  $150,710.74 48-month 4% interest lease purchase agreement with First Kansas Bank for the purchase of an 2023 Vac-Con Freightliner Combination Truck from Red Equipment LLC. of Independence, Mo., that has a total cost of $504,216.50.

At the last meeting, the council discussed the purchase of the truck from Key Equipment, but the dealer submitted an new quote for a higher price due to an increased chassis cost.  Despite this, Vac-Con validated the original bid, Public Works Director Jason Cauley said. 

This replaces a 2001 Vactor truck, and Vac-Con is offering the city a $10,000 trade-in for it. This brings to two the number of vacuum trucks in the city fleet.

• Approved Fire Department township contracts to furnish fire protection and suppression. These included: Buffalo Township, $31 ,350; South Bend Township, $25,553; Great Bend Township, $67,656;  and Liberty Township, $20,211.

• Approved designating the Great Bend Tribune as the official city newspaper.

• Held a 15-minute executive session to discuss matters deemed privileged due to attorney-client relations.

When returning to open session, no action was taken.

• Held a 30-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel.

When reconvening to open session, no action was taken.

• Heard a report from Interim City Administrator Logan Burns. He focused on an update on the new Justice Center, automated water meter installation and the search for the new city administrator.

• Heard a report from Christina Hayes, community coordinator and Convention and Visitors Bureau director. She focused on the woes facing the Bird Scooter program, the CVB’s Be Our Guest training and an the totals from the Trail of Lights.

• Approved abatements for trash and refuse violations at: 227 5th St., WHB Inc.; 1209 Holland St., Scott and Danielle Delgadillo; and 208 Fruit., Ismael and Amalia Campos.

• Approved abatement for vehicle nuisance at 1709 16th St., Diana Hejny.