After months of rolling around in limbo, the popular but divisive app-enabled electric scooters are set to return to the streets of San Francisco on October 15.
A spokesperson for Scoot, one of only two outfits that can now legally rent scooters to San Franciscans, tells Curbed SF via email that the company is set to deploy its two-wheeled get-arounds on Monday, with a preview event in the Bayview this Friday.
The Bayview locale is perhaps a critical detail, given that the San Francisco Examiner says Scoot will reserve scooter service mostly to eastern neighborhoods, ranging from the Castro to the waterfront but mostly excluding western neighborhoods and the city’s southern flank.
[Update: Scoot’s competitor Skip tells Curbed SF via email it’s also set to hit the streets Monday but hasn’t yet defined its own service area. Notably, a company spokesperson says it will have a table at the Excelsior’s Sunday Streets event this weekend to sign up users and give away helmets, after doing similar hubs at Castro, Cole Valley, and Mission sites throughout the week.]
SFMTA awarded both companies access to the sweet San Francisco scooter market in August, icing out previously bigger names like Lime, Bird, Spin, Uber, and Lyft, all of whom had vied for the right.
The city’s pilot program allows both companies only a few hundred vehicles—1,250 between them—with the potential to double the number in six months.
The city cited the “strength of the proposals” presented by Scoot and Skip for their decision, saying at the time that “no other applications substantially exceeded the agency’s standards.”
Lime, one of the three companies that set off the e-scooter craze in San Francisco and shortly in major cities across the US, has appealed the city’s decision to tell it to scoot off, alleging “significant bias by the SFMTA, its Director of Transportation, and members of the SFMTA Board of Directors” against the company.
Note that although City Hall gossip has it that regulators did indeed resent Lime and its peers for their ambush marketing tactics of throwing vehicles onto SF streets without revealing plans ahead of time, nobody has proven those allegations. Whether they would amount to improper bias if true is a separate question.
Either way, beginning Monday the city has two legal purveyors and a relatively small number of scooters to go around, and that’s that, at least for now. What will happen after the one-year pilot also remains to be seen.