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Powered Scooter Pilot Program

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) today announced that it will offer permits to two companies for participation in a one-year powered scooter share pilot program. After a thorough review of 12 applications and more than 800 pages of proposals received, the SFMTA will offer permits to Scoot and Skip. The SFMTA’s decision is based on the strength of the proposals submitted by the two companies, combined with their experience of owning, operating and maintaining a shared mobility service in the public right-of-way.

“From bike sharing and moped sharing to microtransit, the SFMTA is using smart, sensible standards to regulate private sector mobility services safely, effectively and in the public interest,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation, Ed Reiskin. “While no application was flawless, we selected only the applicants with the strongest proposals for this one-year pilot program. Scoot and Skip demonstrated a high level of commitment to our city’s values of prioritizing public safety, promoting equity, ensuring accountability and safeguarding our shared, public spaces.”

Scoot and Skip put forth the strongest proposals the SFMTA received. Taken as a whole, their applications demonstrated not only a commitment to meet the terms of the permit, but a high level of capability to operating a safe, equitable and accountable scooter share service. Both companies submitted strong proposals with detailed, unique and innovative approaches that demonstrated the highest level of commitment to solving known challenges and concerns, ranging from public safety and user education to equitable access and collaboration with the city and its diverse communities.

The SFMTA found that no other applications substantially exceeded the agency’s standards for operating a shared scooter pilot program in San Francisco to the extent that Scoot and Skip did.

To provide transparency and insight into the agency’s evaluation and decision-making process, the SFMTA has made public a variety of information and materials at www.sfmta.com/sharedscooters. These include a detailed policy memo, evaluations for each separate application, a summary table showing ratings for all the applicants across key evaluation criteria, the original applications received and the decision letters sent to the applicants.

Creating a Scooter Share Program in the Public Interest

In April 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a city law requiring that any company operating a shared, powered scooter service in San Francisco must have a permit from the SFMTA to park their scooters on sidewalks and other public spaces. In alignment with this law, which took effect on June 4, the SFMTA created its Powered Scooter Share Permit and Pilot Program with an application process for interested companies. As part of the pilot, up to five permits could have been issued with a cap of 2,500 scooters total.

The SFMTA’s application process invited proposals that prioritized the city’s concerns around safety, equity and accountability.

Applicants had the opportunity to develop innovative solutions that would minimize their impact on San Francisco’s sidewalks, while maximizing transparency and engagement with the public and city government. At a minimum, the SFMTA required that applicants: provide user education, be insured, share trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that safeguards user information, offer a low-income plan, and submit a proposed service area plan for city approval.

The SFMTA also underscored the opportunity companies had to seriously address illegal scooter riding and parking.

The Strongest Applications Received

In its application, Scoot demonstrated a strong commitment to safety. For example, the company proposed to educate and train its users in safe scooter operations with mandatory instructional videos, helmets included in rentals and free in-person training. Furthermore, Scoot’s model was unique in its proposal to use swappable batteries instead of manually taking the scooters off the street for regular recharging. This method could help the city reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled on San Francisco streets, which helps reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Scoot also has experience in owning, operating and maintaining shared mobility equipment in San Francisco, specifically having managed a fleet of shared, electric mopeds since 2012.

Skip’s proposal also demonstrated a strong commitment to public safety. The company went beyond most other applicants with proposals to deploy ambassadors to approach users about safe behaviors and provide helmets, as well as offer in-person training sessions for users. The company also proposed deploying 20 percent of its scooters in San Francisco’s underserved southeastern communities. Skip also proposed to establish a community advisory board to ensure responsiveness to community concerns. Additional highlights of the company’s proposal included a 50 percent discount for low-income users, a “lock-to” scooter prototype already developed, and partnerships in job training and retraining organizations.

Skip also has experience operating a permitted scooter program in a major U.S. city (Washington, D.C.)

About the Pilot Program

The SFMTA intends to issue the permits to Scoot and Skip on October 15, 2018, which will allow a maximum of 625 scooters for each company in the first six months. Scoot and Skip may have the potential to increase their number of scooters in months seven to 12 to a cap of 2,500, at the SFMTA’s sole discretion. The cap is sufficient to allow for a thorough evaluation of the scooter sharing operating model in San Francisco, while minimizing the potential for sidewalk crowding and safety impacts during the pilot phase. This cap is also consistent with the number of scooters the city believes were operating in San Francisco at its peak before the permitting law and system took effect.

During the 12-month pilot, the SFMTA will evaluate how a shared scooter system works in San Francisco. The agency will assess the pilot’s effectiveness and company compliance through field observation, counts, citations issued, data received, complaints received and other measures. The pilot’s results will inform future policy recommendations and next steps. It may be possible for the agency to arrive at these recommendations before the 12-month mark, or make adjustments during the pilot.

Since no applicant proposed sufficiently detailed or comprehensive community outreach plans, the SFMTA will outline the agency’s expectations for community engagement prior to issuance of the first permit. These expectations will detail potentially appropriate outreach strategies (e.g., use of community meetings, partnerships with local Community-Based Organizations, etc.), based on experience with bikeshare and other shared mobility programs in San Francisco, as well as peer city best practices. Moreover, the SFMTA will require Scoot and Skip to submit revised community engagement plans reflecting these expectations.

Furthermore, the SFMTA is ensuring that the city’s involvement in regulating and evaluating this new mobility services does not come at the expense of taxpayers. The agency is recovering program costs through a $25,000 annual permit fee and by creating a $10,000 endowment per permittee to cover city costs associated with property repair and maintenance. The SFMTA had also implemented an initial $5,000 application fee when it was accepting applications for review.