If you start to see more mopeds on Branson streets here’s the reason why

Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 8:03 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - Elevate Branson, formerly known as Jesus was Homeless, is a charity organization on a mission to help those in poverty with a wide variety of outreach and support services.

But their newest effort that started in mid-February is quite different.

“Well, I never wanted to be in the transportation game but nothing was happening to address it,” said Elevate Branson CEO and Founder Bryan Stallings.

What needed to be addressed is the fact that Branson has no public transportation system for its large transitory workforce like Springfield has with its city bus system.

“It’s been talked about for the last 25 years that Branson needs some kind of affordable transportation,” Stallings said. “Many of our neighbors are living in motels around Branson and they’re limited to where they can work based on where they live.”

So Elevate Branson has answered the call with scooters.

Not the e-scooters like Springfield has but different sized motor scooters that will serve two groups of people.

The larger-size rent-to-own mopeds require a motorcycle license to operate and come with six hours of training.

“That will be a rent-to-own program for our local workforce,” Stallings explained. “So for a little over $5 a day they can get their very own scooter, helmet, jacket, gloves, all their liability insurance and their maintenance over three years. One of the unique things about this program is we’ve partnered with a local bank to make the payment very affordable so it’s just like a traditional loan. And once the bank takes that loan they cut a check back to us which we use to reinvest back into the inventory to keep the program moving forward.”

The smaller scooters that don’t require a license will be for rental-only and they’ll be used by a group of around 700 international students who come to Branson every summer to live and help supplement the workforce.

“Having those students here to experience the culture of the United States is the main objective,” pointed out Jonas Arjes, the Executive Vice-President of the Branson Chamber and CVB as well as the Chief Administrator of the Taney County Partnership. “But part of that experience is they’re allowed to work while they’re here and can earn money to save and pay for their education.”

As for e-scooters or bicycles, Stallings said the area’s numerous hills and lack of shoulders on many roads made mopeds the better choice.

“The international community had looked at using bicycles in the past when they’ve come here” he pointed out. “But with no shoulders on the roads it makes it very dangerous. And once you get off the strip we don’t have a lot of sidewalks for the e-scooters. With the motorized scooters they’ll be on the road as part of traffic.”

While it remains to be seen how successful these alternatives will be Stallings predicts there will be 50-60 mopeds on the street in the near future and he’s surprised at the age groups that have shown interest.

“I thought it would be the younger generation from like the early 20′s to early 30′s,” he said. “But actually the statistics show the ages are about 35 to their early 50′s. That tells me it doesn’t matter what age you are. If you don’t have transportation you’re willing to do what it takes. And once we expand this program into eastern Taney county it’s not only going to open up more opportunities for an influx of employees, but also more opportunities for affordable housing. That’s because much of the housing is now in Branson-proper because of the lack of transportation. But if people are able to commute you can start building that affordable housing outside of Branson. So there can be a lot of benefits to the program.”

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