Powered scooters are back on San Francisco streets after a more than three-month hiatus.
Scooter companies, this time around, will have to play by the rules under a pilot program regulated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The only two companies to receive a permit from the SFMTA out of 12 applicants were Skip and Scoot in late August.
Skip and Scoot are allowed to each launch 625 scooters during the first six months of the SFMTA one-year pilot program for a total of 1,250 scooters. That total could potentially increase to 2,500 in the last six months of the pilot program.
Both companies have been preparing to launch their scooters, including working with the SFMTA on final planning and holding pop-up events around The City to educate riders on the do’s and don’t’s of using their vehicles.
Due to the limited the number of scooters available, the coverage area is small. Skip has its scooters centralized in the Financial District and downtown core of The City with some coverage in the Richmond, Mission, and Excelsior districts and a small portion of The Bayview, according to a coverage area map from Skip.
Scoot’s coverage area focuses also in the downtown area. Their coverage area borders The Castro and heads all the way to the waterfront on Market Street and down to Mission Bay, Dogpatch and The Bayview. Hayes Valley, Union Square, the Financial District and the South of Market area are also part of Scoot’s coverage area.
Scoot said online on its website that while users are able to its scooters anywhere in The City, users must return the scooter in the coverage area or else face a “rescue fee.”
Representatives from each company were out on Monday passing out free helmets and educating riders.
The company Scoot might sound familiar to some as the company already has a permit in San Francisco to operate its red mopeds.
Scooters vanished off the streets temporarily for most of the summer and part of the fall as the SFMTA worked on reviewing 12 applications, including from Lime, Spin and Bird, companies that had launched their scooters prior to any legislation and permit program.
Legislation approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors also stopped scooters from continuing to operate on city streets, as the legislation required the removal of any unauthorized scooters that were not part of the SFMTA’s permit program.
All three companies did not score very high on their applications.
Lime has disputed the process and filed an appeal with the transit agency as well as attempting to temporarily stop the pilot program through the court system.
A judge last Friday denied Lime’s request but has requested five SFMTA officials to testify in court, including Ed Reiskin, SFMTA transportation director, according to TechCrunch.