Lime: ‘SFMTA has selected inexperienced scooter operators that plan to learn on the job, at the expense of the public good’

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – APRIL 17: A Bird scooter sits parked on a street corner on April 17, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Two wildcards have emerged victorious in the fierce 12-contender battle for clearance to operate dockless, rentable electric scooter programs on the streets of San Francisco.

After three months of reviewing applications, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) announced Thursday they would be awarding only Skip and Scoot permits in October, despite previously saying there were five slots up for grabs. In turn, the two underdogs, who were chosen over top-names, including Jump (Uber), Lyft, Lime, Spin and Bird, have been accepted into a one-year test program in the city.

In the permit application, each company was required to provide information on how it would educate customers on helmet safety, rider etiquette (steering clear of sidewalks) and proper scooter parking. It was also required each candidate be insured and have a privacy policy in place to protect users’ information. In addition, the companies had to agree to share trip data with San Francisco, provide access to all neighborhoods and offer an alternative plan that catered to low-income individuals.

Bird, Lime and Spin were all served cease-and-desists letters when they flooded the roadways with their scooters earlier this year without notifying officials. Scoot and Skip both notably took a more bureaucratic approach and opted to talk with city regulators before launching, and it appears their patience is now paying dividends.

An Uber spokesman said, “Granting only two scooter permits unnecessarily limits mobility options in San Francisco, and we plan to follow up with the SFMTA to share our concerns.

A Spin spokesman also expressed disappointment, and said, “We hope SFMTA will consider allowing additional operators to participate in the pilot program.”

Lyft and Bird echoed similar sentiments and voiced a desire to continue working with the city. Lime chose more aggressive messaging.

“The SFMTA has selected inexperienced scooter operators that plan to learn on the job, at the expense of the public good,” Lime CEO Toby Sun wrote in an email. “The SFMTA’s handling of the dockless bike and scooter share programs has lacked transparency from the beginning. We call on the Mayor’s Office and Board of Supervisors to hold the SFMTA accountable for a flawed permitting process… We plan to appeal this decision and will look for new ways to serve the people of San Francisco.”


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