Lime loses appeal to operate electric scooters in SF

Lime, similar to its competitors Spin and JUMP, just got word that while its appeal to operate electric scooters in phase one of San Francisco’s pilot program was denied, it may be able to deploy scooters during phase two. This comes following San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Neutral Hearing Officer James Doyle’s decision regarding Ford’s Spin, Uber’s JUMP and now Lime’s appeals of the permitting process.

Currently, Skip and Scoot are the only two companies permitted to operate shared electric scooter services in the city. 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.

“As a well-experienced and well-qualified vendor, I would expect that Lime’s entry into the city’s Pilot Program should result not only in increased services on our streets, but allowing additional capable operators in the Pilot Program can only enhance the probability of an eventual success of the powered scooter share program in San Francisco,” Doyle wrote in his decision.

Moving forward, it’s unclear if the SFMTA will take the recommendation, but SFMTA Communications Manager Ben Jose previously told TechCrunch, “The SFMTA will be consulting with the City Attorney’s Office to determine next steps as we near the second half of the pilot.”

In a statement to TechCrunch, Lime said it appreciates the hearing officer’s recommendation that Lime be considered to operate its shared electric scooters during phase two of the program. A Lime spokesperson also said they appreciate Doyle’s note that Lime has the expertise and operational capacity to meet the SFMTA’s requirements.

“We couldn’t agree more,” the Lime spokesperson said. “Lime looks forward to continuing our work with the SFMTA, and to expanding consumer choice and the quality of the scooter share program in Lime’s hometown.”

Lime has been one of the more outspoken companies following the SFMTA’s electric scooter decision. When, in October, the SFMTA selected Skip and Scoot as the only two electric scooter companies permitted to operate in the city, competitor Lime took legal steps to attempt to prevent Skip and Scoot from deploying. A San Francisco judge, however, promptly denied Lime’s request for a temporary restraining order. Then, in December, Lime held a protest on the steps of SF City Hall to challenge the decision.

In its appeal, Lime argued the SFMTA was biased against it, as well as Spin and Bird, for deploying its scooters without explicit permission back in March. In Doyle’s decision, he said, while the “instances that Lime highlights may establish possible bias on the part of the SFMTA,” there was not a preponderance of evidence to show the SFMTA was biased against Lime.

“My review of Lime’s application proposals, when compared side-by-side with those of Scoot and Skip, confirms my opinion that an even-handed evaluation of Lime’s written descriptions in its application of its planned scooter rollout was conducted by the SFMTA scorers,” he said.