Vicksburg welcomes the start of Blue Duck ‘season’

Published 10:53 am Thursday, September 17, 2020

A flock of ducks took over a section of Washington Street Thursday.

San Antonio-based Blue Duck Express, which rents electric scooters as alternative transportation in urban areas, opened its first product launch outside of Texas and a group of local and tourism officials took to the street to try them out.

“It’s impressive to see a city like Vicksburg thinking about micro-mobility, especially in this environment,” said Michael Keane, Blue Duck CEO. “Vicksburg is very important to us and our growth. We’re also thrilled to be the first micro-mobility company in Mississippi.”

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Blue Duck will have between 35 and 50 scooters at strategic locations in the city operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Scooters will be available in the downtown area bounded by First East Street on the north, Monroe Street on the east, Madison and Depot streets on the south and Levee Street on the west.

People wanting to use a scooter can download an app to their cell phone to find one. The app gives the location of the scooter and tells the person how much power is remaining on its battery.

Using the app, the rider scans the scooter to unlock it and ride to their destination, where the scooter is parked.

Payment for use of the scooter can be made by a credit or debit card within the app. Money from the card is deposited into a “wallet” on the app and used to pay for the rides. The charge is an initial $1 fee and then 25 cents a minute, although the company cut the initial fee to 50 cents for this weekend.

Helmets are not required by state law while operating a scooter, but their use is encouraged. They are not provided by Blue Duck.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Blue Duck’s operations here are being done at no cost to the city.

While duck season opens in November, District 5 Warren County Supervisor Kelle Barfield said, “When it comes to finding ways to improve the quality of life in our community it’s always open season on fresh ideas and excitement. I think we’re going to see a lot from this (public/private) partnership in the weeks and months to come.”

Pablo Diaz, president and CEO of the Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership, said the scooters provide a new way for residents and tourists to see the city.

“Here is a way in which you can experience your community in a different way using a scooter,” he said. “It’s a completely different experience to enjoy our amazing architecture and our amazing history right here in downtown Vicksburg.”

Flaggs said the scooters will enhance the quality of life for millennials and people who want to come to see Vicksburg, “but at the same time enjoy a downtown Vicksburg like never before and Main Street — a Main Street like never before.

“Here today is the first in Mississippi, the first in Vicksburg; the first in the south region,” he said. “We want to take this opportunity to not only welcome Blue Duck but to be able to open the doors of this part of the city, this part of the state, this part of the nation like never before.”

Flaggs turned and pointed to the city’s waterfront and the floodwall murals.

“Look at that backdrop. When you look at that backdrop, I can see the cruise ships, I can see a Mississippi Riverfront development in three years like never before,” he said. “This is the greatest day, not only in Vicksburg but in Mississippi because we’ve got something special; we’re first today.”

City officials have been examining bringing Blue Duck to the city since November 2019. The board in January was able to get a local and private, or special bill, passed in the Legislature to allow the city to pass an ordinance allowing scooters in the city, making the city the first in the state to allow electric scooters on city streets.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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