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SF clashes with scooter company over permit violations: City wins

By Carly Graf, San Francisco Examiner, July 7, 2021

[Dockless scooter company Scoot] had to remove all of its red-and-black electric scooters, once a fixture on [San Francisco] streets, by July 1 after city regulators concluded it was violating its permit.

Two scooter companies, Spin and Lime, had their permits renewed for one year starting July 1. Each will be allowed to deploy 2,000 scooters in The City, with the opportunity to apply for 500 additional scooters every several months.

Scoot, purchased by Bird in 2019, secured a permit that same year but did not get its application renewed this time because it used subcontractors without permission.

“The transit agency concluded Scoot was using fleet managers, a program that allows contractors to lease the scooters [without permission]. They’re responsible for most costs and give Scoot a cut of earnings. In other cities, this practice reportedly has saddled some people with debt when demand drops.

SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin has been a vocal supporter for public-private partnerships, marketing them during the pandemic as a way to fill the gaps left behind by Muni service cuts and as a path towards cutting down emissions from private vehicles.

“The question becomes how to promote innovation that adequately solves ‘real public problems,’ Tumlin said at an SFMTA board meeting in December 2020.

“His answer?

“Do it in a way that ‘keeps our eyes wide open.’ ”

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