SF also denies JUMP’s electric scooter appeal

A neutral hearing officer in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has denied Uber-owned JUMP’s appeal regarding the SFMTA’s decision to not provide JUMP a permit to operate shared electric scooters in the city.

“We are pleased the hearing officer validated our permitting process, which above all, prioritized the public interest,” SFMTA Communications Manager Ben Jose said in a statement to TechCrunch.

JUMP argued that the SFMTA did not fairly judge its offering against the likes of Skip and Scoot — the two operators granted permits for shared electric scooter services. But SFMTA Hearing Officer James Doyle has determined the SFMTA did not improperly deny JUMP a permit to operate in the program.

“Given the equal opportunity afforded to each applicant, I cannot find that the SFMTA’s Pilot Program proposal was fundamentally unfair to any applicant, least of all to JUMP, which has been engaged in the alternative mobility industry for a considerable period of time before its e-scooter efforts commenced in San Francisco,” he wrote in his decision.

JUMP also argued it was given a fair rating in the experience category due to its relationship with Uber, which bought the company last year. Uber, of course, has had a contentious relationship with the city of San Francisco as a result of its ride-hailing business. In the SFMTA’s decision, it did point to JUMP’s relationship with Uber as an area of concern.

“The SFMTA’s ‘concern’ about the Uber connection does seem somewhat inappropriate, given how dissimilar the ride hailing industry is from the business of e-scooters for hire,” Doyle writes. “But again, even if JUMP had merited a strong rating in this category, I find that there is still a preponderance of evidence in the record to support the lower overall comparison of its application, and for the SFMTA’s denial of a permit to JUMP. As to the Uber connection, there remains absolutely no evidence that Uber’s parent company status has or will in any way jeopardize the strong working relationship that JUMP has already enjoyed with the City and with the SFMTA.”

In the event the SFMTA does decide to add more scooters during the second half of the pilot program, Doyle recommends the agency allow JUMP to participate “at some level.”

After the first six months of the program, in April, the SFMTA can potentially increase the number of scooters from the current max of 625 to 2,500. This juncture, Doyle said, should be able to accommodate the addition of other operators.

This decision, however, is not surprising, given Ford-owned Spin received the same outcome last week. In his decision, Doyle said “Spin appears to be an experienced and capable operator.”

Similar to what Doyle said about Spin, he’s convinced JUMP “has the expertise and operational capacity to meet each of the terms of the Pilot Program proposal based on a history of successful past experience with its shared e-bikes in San Francisco — experience that may not have been adequately taken into account.  JUMP’s application may not be one of the most thoroughly detailed, but I find that certainly by now JUMP has all of the information it might need about the Agency’s requirements for its effective future participation in the 2d Phase of the Pilot Program.”

Still, as a condition for JUMP to be able to participate in phase two of the pilot, Doyle recommends JUMP be required to submit additional documentation to show it would comply with operational conditions and requirements the SFMTA might impose, “especially with respect to those categories in JUMP’s application that were deemed to be comparatively rated as ‘poor’ as well as ‘fair.'” JUMP received a poor rating pertaining to safety, and a fair rating for its experience.

“We are encouraged by the recommendation that the SFMTA consider allowing JUMP to join the scooter pilot in April,” Uber/JUMP spokesperson Nick Smith said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We also appreciate the hearing officer’s comments that our local bikeshare operations have been ‘exceptional,’ and we look forward to the opportunity to also bring our scooter services to San Francisco.”