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Lime appeals San Francisco’s scooter permit exclusion

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Electric scooter company frustrated that SFMTA developed plan “in secret without public input”

Photo by David Tran Photo

Jaws dropped in August when the city of San Francisco decided not to award SF-based electronic scooter company Lime a permit for SFMTA’s one-year scooter pilot program. (The city also eschewed granting permits to Bird and Spin, the two other major e-scooter startups.)

Instead, the city named unknown ingenues, Scoot and Skip, as beneficiaries, leading many to believe the city was punishing the popular scooter operators for their impertinence. Chatter around City Hall accused Spin, Lime, and Santa Monica-based Bird of ruffling too many feathers with their do-first-ask-forgiveness-later attitude toward regulation. The scooter proposals for ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber, which are also based in SF, were also not picked for the pilot.

But now Lime has fired back. The company filed an appeal today regarding the city’s Powered Scooter Share Permit Pilot Program and asked for a stay.

Lime’s cites a “significant bias by the SFMTA, its Director of Transportation, and members of the SFMTA Board of Directors, which precluded a neutral decision-making process” and “unclear and inconsistent application of the evaluation criteria, which led to arbitrary and inexplicable results.”

In an ironic twist, Lime goes on to slam SFMTA for “the creation of new evaluation criteria, which were developed without public input, thus making it impossible to carry out a fair and transparent competitive process.”

Indeed, major decisions regarding a city’s public space, such as placing electric two-wheeled devices on sidewalks, would benefit from fair and transparent public input.

Lime’s appeal letter to the SFMTA ends with the following statement:

Please consider this letter as Lime’s formal request that SFMTA stay any action to issue Pilot Program permits until the decision on any administrative appeal is final. Please respond to our request in writing no later than Friday, September 21, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. If SFMTA declines to respond by that date, we will assume that SFMTA plans to proceed with issuance of permits to the two companies on or before October 15, 2018, despite pending appeals, and we will advise Lime to seek prompt redress.

SFMTA will begin issuing permits to Skip and Scoot—who Lime has called “inexperienced scooter operators”—on October 15.