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Home / Technology / Two scooter companies, Skip and Scoot, win SF permits

Two scooter companies, Skip and Scoot, win SF permits



  Two pedestrians notice a group of scooters on an SF sidewalk.

Bird scooters will not fly, but soon it will be possible to drive a scooter.


James Martin

And then there were two.

Twelve companies, including Uber and Lyft, had been in possession of permits to operate dockless, rentable electric scooter programs in San Francisco. But the city had said room for only five .

After three months of application studies, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) said on Thursday that only two companies would receive permits: Skip and Scoot. These permits allow them to take part in a year-long testing program in the city.

"The agency was looking for applications that prioritize city concerns about security, disability access, equality and accountability," the SFMTA said in its announcement. "Overall, the applications of Scoot and Skip have demonstrated not only a commitment to compliance with the terms of the license, but also a high level of ability to operate a secure, equitable and accountable scooter share service."

The companies that fail to make the cut are Bird, CycleHop, Jump (aka Uber), Lime, Lyft, Ofo, Razor, Ridecell, Spin and UScooter

Scooters become a controversial subject in the Bay Area become. The turmoil began after three companies ̵

1; Bird, Lime and Spin – unloaded their e-scooters in San Francisco at the end of March, without blaming legislators or residents. Almost immediately hundreds of scooters scattered the sidewalks.

Some locals were happy that they could easily slip from one block to another in the congested city. Others complained that drivers did not follow the Highway Code and endangered pedestrians by driving on sidewalks and leaving the scooters where they felt right – blocking parking lots, bicycle racks, and wheelchair access.

In April, San Francisco officials passed a law that restricted the number of rentable, boilerless scooters in the city. With only up to five companies allowed to operate, the law restricts the city's total number of scooters to 1,250 in the first six months. If this number works, the cap could rise to 2,500.

In their permit application, each company had to demonstrate how it would offer user training to wear helmets and not on sidewalks, as well as best practices for safe scooter parking. Everyone also had to be insured and adopt a privacy policy to protect users' information. The companies also had to commit to sharing the travel dates with the city, granting access to all neighborhoods and offering a plan for low-income drivers.

"We are already attacking local groups to learn their concerns about equal opportunity and poverty, working together to create solutions that make e-scooters accessible to all communities," Skip CEO Sanjay Dastoor wrote in a blog post , "This pilot program is the beginning of an opportunity to invest in areas such as bicycle lane infrastructure and vocational training and to connect more people to public transport such as Muni, BART and Caltrain."

SFMTA said Scoot and Skip had submitted the strongest applications from 12 companies. Skip, who operates a scooter rental program in Washington, DC, suggested using ambassadors to alert drivers to safe behavior. Scoot, which currently operates electric scooter rental in San Francisco and Barcelona suggested offering helmets and free personal training at every scooter rental.

"Our team is ready to offer this new service professionally, securely and in partnership with the city," said Scoot CEO Michael Keating in an email. "With our proven track record of delivering electromobility, we understand the importance of maintaining positive relationships with both public officials and citizens."

A big difference between Scoot and Skip and many other companies that have applied for permits that these two services have worked with the city regulators before the launch. Regulators have submitted both Uber and Lyft letters of caution when they performed their services a few years ago without authorization. And the same thing happened when Bird, Lime and Spin flooded the streets with their scooters earlier this year.

"It was a 'let's throw this on the road and later ask for forgiveness," said Thom Rickert, an emerging risk specialist for the public consulting firm Trident Public Risk Solutions. "The first thing the scooter companies had to do was engage in dialogue with the city authorities, and if they had asked for input first, we probably would not have seen so much recoil."

The companies that said the San Francisco permit said they were disappointed.

A Uber spokeswoman said, "Granting only two scooter permits unnecessarily limits the mobility options in San Francisco and we plan to follow the SFMTA to share our concerns." A spin spokesman said: "We hope that SFMTA will consider allowing other operators to participate in the pilot program. "A Lyft spokeswoman said," We remain confident that we will be able to offer scooters in San Francisco in the future. "And one bird spokeswoman said," We will continue to work with San Francisco officials, partners, community organizations and lawyers in hopes of Bird to bring back to town on the bay. "

Lime, which received part of the funding from Uber last month, had a more aggressive attitude."

"The SFMTA has selected inexperienced scooter operators to plan on the Job learning at the expense of the public good "Lime CEO Toby Sun said in an e-mail." SFMTA's handling of driverless bike and scooter stock programs was not transparent from the start. We urge the mayor and the board to hold SFMTA accountable for a flawed approval process … We will challenge this decision and seek new ways to serve the people of San Francisco.

While the city was processing the permits in the last three months, no company was allowed to have scooters on the roads, which will take a little while, SFMTA said it will not approve Scoot and Skip until October 15 The companies will then be able to station 625 scooters, which is roughly equivalent to the number of scooters that were on the road before the approval law came into force

First published on 30th August, 12:54 pm PT.
Update, 17:38: Adds additional background information and comments from Uber, Lyft, Bird, Lime, Spin, Scoot, Skip, and Thom Rickert.

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