The SF-based ride-hailing company Lyft may be looking to put even more wheels on the road, but this time it’s driving toward a smaller expansion, at least according to reports indicating that Lyft wants to get in on the contentious but potentially profitable electric scooter game in SF.
On Sunday, the tech news blog the Information reported that “a local consulting firm representing Lyft approached San Francisco transportation officials in recent weeks about applying for permits,” citing some obtained emails as its source.
On Tuesday the San Francisco Examiner followed up on the story, also citing emails between SF-based Ground Floor Public Affairs’ director Lindsay Calderone and SFMTA.
Calderone allegedly wrote, “We are now working with Lyft on scooters,” which is a pretty definitive statement of interest. Lyft spokesperson Alex Rafter tells Curbed SF the company has no comment.
Even if the company is consulting over a possible scooter expansion the query doesn’t guarantee it’ll actually go ahead with one, but the move would make sense.
Earlier this month the SFMTA Board of Directors voted in favor of a scooter pilot program that would allow five different companies to hold permits operating scooter rentals in SF for a year. Right now only three companies—Bird, LimeBike, and Spin—are in on the game, so there’s room for more.
The pilot program caps the number of scooters citywide at 2,500 between all five potential permit holders, but that figure can and probably will go up once the pilot concludes, so there’s also room for expansion.
And of course, Lyft’s principal rideshare rival Uber has cashed in on electric bike sharing, procuring dockless bike rental company Jump in April. So it’s natural that Lyft might want to put the rubber to the road (or sidewalk in this case, although that’s not a kosher use of the tech) and get ahead in a similar but still largely untried market.
SFMTA reportedly responded to the query saying that permit applications will be available in about two weeks. Note that the pilot program itself won’t go into effect unless approved by the Board of Supervisors.