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Uber among dozen companies applying for scooter permits

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Rideshare rivals Lyft and Uber both want in on the scooter game, along with ten other companies

Keep these off sidewalks while using. Photo by Brock Keeling

Thursday was the last day for companies to submit a bid for one of only five citywide permits SFMTA plans to issue for app-enabled scooter rentals in San Francisco, and ride-hailing rivals Lyft and Uber were among those hoping to snag a plum spot on the city rolls.

Lyft’s interest in the scooter game came to light weeks ago via SFMTA emails obtained through public information requests, even though the company declined to confirm to Curbed SF.

Uber’s entry into the scooter wars is hardly surprising given the company’s interest in seemingly every wheeled conveyance, be it ride-sharing, electric bikes, flying cars, or (formerly) self-driving cars.

The full list of would-be permit holders, as reported by the San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle, and other outlets, include existing scooter companies Lime, Spin, and Bird.

San Francisco Battles New Electric Scooter Rentals Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chinese bikeshare company Ofo and U.S.-based Razor—purveyors of once very trendy folding scooters—are among the other bidders.

Update: SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose tells Curbed SF that the full list is as follows:

  • Bird
  • Spin
  • Lime
  • ofo
  • Scoot
  • Skip (Waybots)
  • Lyft
  • Razor
  • Hopr (Cyclehop)
  • USSCooter
  • Jump (Uber)
  • Ridecell

All told, the applications represent a quadrupling of the number of players in the scooter game since they first appeared overnight (as if by dark magic) on San Francisco streets in early April.

Only five companies and, at the height of the one-year pilot, 2,500 actual vehicles will actually be part of the program. It’s possible that Spin, Lime, or Bird will end up shut out of the scooter market the three set spinning if SFMTA considers newcomers to have the stronger application.

SFMTA will issue the five permits later this month.