SF and Santa Monica expected to award official permits to scooter companies today

The day has arrived. After more than two months of waiting, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is poised to determine which of 12 companies will successfully procure one of the city’s five permits. 

The permits are hot commodities for those competing for scooter market dominance, which includes Uber and Lyft, which applied for permits to operate e-scooters despite not yet having any. San Francisco is a key market for e-scooters; for some of these companies, failing to receive a permit could mean the end of the road.

Santa Monica, where Bird is headquartered, is also expected to award four permits for its electric scooter and bike pilot program today. Bird is the most valuable scooter startup; it hit a $2 billion valuation in June after raising hundreds of millions in venture capital funding. 

Bird, Lime and Spin — all of which applied for permits — were the three original players in the San Francisco scooter game. They released their fleet of scooters in the city in March without permission. As a result, the SFMTA asked the companies to temporarily remove the scooters in late May and initiated a permit process as part of the 24-month pilot program.

As part of the program, the city will allow only 2,500 scooters on the streets at once. Those chosen are required to provide user education and insurance, share the data of the trips with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data and offer a low-income plan to their riders.

The other companies that applied for permits are Scoot, Ridecell, USSCooter, Skip, Ofo, Razor and Hopr (Cyclehop).