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Lime scooters again turned away from San Francisco streets

Four months into a pilot program by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to allow powered scooters back on city streets, a San Francisco-based scooter company says it’s not giving up on being part of the program, even though its appeal was denied Tuesday.

 Back in October, the SFMTA began its one-year pilot program and approved permits for two companies, Scoot and Skip. San Francisco-based Lime was one of ten companies denied permits, along with Spin and Jump. At the time, Lime alleged that the SFMTA’s permit system was flawed and sought to appeal the agency’s decision. Spin and Jump also separately appealed their permit denials.

According to John Cote with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, which handled the appeals for the SFMTA, a neutral hearing officer looked at the appeals and separately denied all three.

Spin’s appeal was denied on Jan. 29, while Jump’s was denied on Feb. 5. Lime’s appeal was denied Tuesday, he said.

The hearing officer, however, did recommend that the SFMTA consider permitting Lime to participate in the second phase of the pilot program, which will begin in April.

On Tuesday, Lime officials said in a statement:

“While the outcome of today’s decision is disappointing, we look forward to continuing our work with the SFMTA, and working towards our shared, common goals. … As a San Francisco-based company, Lime will continue to identify meaningful ways to benefit the local community and help ensure all corners of the city have access to green, equitable and affordable transportation. We will continue to innovate and provide new solutions to advance micromobility for all, and we remain eager to serve the people of San Francisco.”

Cote said:

“We’re pleased Lime’s appeal was denied. As every single one of these decisions has shown, the SFMTA conducted a fair process in awarding permits. The claim by Lime and other companies that the process was somehow unfair is simply not supported by the facts.”

Cote added:

“We now have three decisions showing the process was fair, reasonable and transparent. The SFMTA awarded the initial permits to the companies that it determined had the best applications. Lime’s proposal simply didn’t measure up to the competition.”

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said that a decision to permit more scooter companies during the second phase has not been made yet:

“We’re going to analyze how the first half is going before we make any changes to the second half.”

The scooter permit system was developed after the city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed legislation in April requiring all companies operating powered scooters in the city to seek permits.

The legislation was in response to a handful of scooter companies that had deployed hundreds of dockless scooters throughout the city in March 2018, drawing complaints from residents who said the scooters were often left on sidewalks and obstructed walkways.

The same month the pilot program began, Lime sought a restraining order in San Francisco Superior Court to block the program, but a judge denied it.

Lime currently operates in at least nine other Bay Area cities, including Oakland and San Mateo.

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