- The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) opened up applications for a 12-month dockless scooter pilot, dubbed the "Powered Scooter Share Permit Program," that will give five companies permits for up to 500 scooters each.
- SFMTA says any scooter company applying to the program must "demonstrate how they will minimize their impact on San Francisco's sidewalks, while maximizing transparency to the public," and be willing to share trip data with the city. Applications are due on June 7.
- SFMTA also announced any dockless scooter found on city streets or sidewalks after June 4 without a permit will be subject to confiscation, and the respective company will be fined $100 per scooter per day, in addition to other city fees and penalties. Those companies will also be denied a permit for the program.
This application process is the newest development in the city's battle against dockless scooters, many of which entered San Francisco unexpectedly in early April. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that, to date, the city has received 1,873 calls complaining about dockless scooter littering, has confiscated 503 scooters — 208 from Lime, 193 from Bird and 102 from Spin — and has tallied $46,520 in fines. However, due to the growing popularity of such scooters nationwide, the city is likely better off regulating the scooters than banning them outright.
San Francisco is the latest example of a city scrambling to regulate dockless scooters while companies take over city streets. And although some leading companies including Spin and Bird have pledged to operate "responsible" scooter-sharing businesses and get permission from cities and transit authorities before entering in new markets, such promises seem to have fallen flat.
By forcing scooter companies to clear the vehicles from city streets by June 4, the city is allotting itself a few weeks of "clean streets" before issuing scooter permits, which is slated to happen in late June. The city's threat to prohibit the companies that haven't removed their vehicles by that date from being able to receive a permit is a promising way of getting such companies to abide by the rules.
While it is not yet determined which companies will receive permits, the front runners include Lime, Spin, Bird and Lyft, the last of which has reportedly been exploring scooter design prototypes.