Ride-sharing service already at work in Sarasota hopes to expand business.
In addition to the taxis, buses, Ubers and Lyfts rolling through the streets of Sarasota, there is a vehicle with a different type of transportation model.
With its teal bumpers and three rows of seats, Gotcha vehicles are still operating after about three years and a few bumps in the road.
The company is now competing with a Midwest-based company to expand in Sarasota with e-scooter- and e-bicycle-sharing proposals.
Gotcha appeared in the form of i-Ride, a pilot program subsidized by the city in 2017. The program initially allowed residents and visitors to flag down or call for an electric car and ride anywhere downtown for free.
After the subsidy ran out, Gotcha founder and CEO Sean Flood said the company had to try a different model in the area.
Thus, Gotcha’s $3 flat rate ride came to Sarasota. But that wasn’t the only change made — Gotcha’s service area expanded to St. Armands and up to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
While Flood said the company has seen success with the ride-share service, he would like to give Sarasota residents and visitors as many ways to get around as possible.
Gotcha was one of two companies to submit a proposal to the city, said Sarasota Planning Director Steve Cover.
Like Gotcha, VeoRide would propose bringing both e-bikes and e-scooters to the area, said VeoRide Director of Communications Linda Jackson.
The company charges $1 to unlock a bike or scooter and 20 cents a minute for a scooter and 5 cents a minute for a bike. If the city chooses, the company offers optional membership packages for the bikes.
“VeoRide’s multimodal system provides sustainable transportation that serves a variety of people,” Jackson said.
“We are also able to provide ADA-compliant bikes that seniors and/or people with disabilities can ride. Our goal is to ‘unlock joy’ in everyone’s day and be a good partner to the communities we serve.”
Flood said if the city were to choose Gotcha, it would bring an ease to users because all of Gotcha’s services can be accessed through one app already operating to hail its ride-sharing service.
“For a consumer to be able to open the app and be able to choose a bike or a ride-share or another product, that convenience in choice is going to beneficial,” he said. “I’m hopeful that Sarasota is going to see that convenience and that we’ll be a provider who provides multiple types of products to residents and visitors.”
Cover said the city will interview both companies June 6, and hopes to have a system installed by the end of the summer.
When interviewing, Cover said the city will ensure whichever system is chosen has a controlled setup, is safe for users and the company is a good community partner.
“We’re really excited about this and we think it’s going to provide another viable option toward moving around the city that we don’t have yet,” he said.