Zapp Scooters bring new drive to Columbia

File Photo: Grace Batton / The Daily Gamecock

The rapid growth of Zapp Scooters, a new rideshare company that opened in Columbia this summer, has brought about some questions of safety as well as general curiosity from students about what those bright green scooters all around campus are all about.

The concept came from its CEO and founder, a USC alum, Frank Scozzafava.

“It’s a fun, affordable, easy, green, clean way to get around,” Scozzafava said. To use one of the Zapp Scooters, one must download the app, register a driver’s license and credit card information and watch a 10-minute video. The app then locates scooters and parking on a map of the area and charges $0.20 per minute or $12 per hour for time spent riding. 

The company has experienced rapid growth since it started. They had over 1000 registered riders in the first week and over 3000 users and over 8800 rides in the past two weeks.  The company is planning to expand to Key West soon as well as the University of Georgia and the University of Florida after some tweaks are made to the scooters' design.

“We were not ready for the amount of rides that we've done and the amount of kids that signed up. ... The usage has just been crazy ... I had to hire double the size of my crew to keep up with swapping the batteries,” Scozzafava said. 

Safety is one of the main concerns of the company as well as university officials. To combat possible accidents, Zapp offers free training classes every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. with Mike Kelly, a certified motor instructor, that includes 30 minutes of ride time.

The class focuses on “how to start and stop, how to make turns and how to use what I call street strategy. To be a defensive driver,” according to Kelly.

“If you are not an experienced scooter driver, do not rent this scooter before you take our training class. They are not toys, they are fun, they are easy to ride, they are electric and don’t let them fool you, you are on the road with other cars and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could injure yourself or someone else,” Scozzafava said. 

Zapp requires riders to follow a user agreement that makes them wear a helmet, and if this agreement is followed accidents are covered by their insurance. One student was recently charged for the damage of the scooter as well as a truck she hit simply because she was not wearing her helmet, which violated the agreement. 

As the company continues to grow, Scozzafava is hoping to take advantage of USC students to increase energy efficiency.

“Our goal is in the next six months is to have [all of our batteries] ... being charged by all solar power. ... We are talking with the University of South Carolina about potentially working with some of the graduate-level engineering students to help us come up with a solar solution to charge all of our batteries for us,” said Scozzafava. 

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