SF denies Spin’s appeal to operate electric scooters, but offers some hope

Spin, the electric scooter company recently bought by Ford, still won’t be able to operate in San Francisco. Well, at least for now. This comes after Spin appealed the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s decision regarding electric scooter permits in the city. A neutral officer, James Doyle, has since denied Spin’s appeal.

“The SFMTA is 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. “The SFMTA developed a fair, thoughtful and transparent permit program. Permits were awarded to the companies with the best applications that demonstrated a commitment to operating a safe, equitable and accountable service.”

There is, however, a silver lining for Spin. The hearing officer recommends the SFMTA consider having Spin participate in the second half of the one-year pilot program. That’s because “Spin appears to be an experienced and capable operator, and because allowing additional operators will enhance the probability of success of the powered e-scooter share program in San Francisco,” Doyle wrote in his decision.

Citing Section 916 of the electric scooter program, which states that after the initial six-month period, the SFMTA may evaluate those with permits and reassess compliance, Doyle says that provides a “natural juncture” in the program. After the first six months of the program, 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.

“We were heartened by the Hearing Officer’s strong recommendation that Spin be granted a permit by the SFMTA at the six-month mark of the pilot,” a Spin spokesperson told TechCrunch via email. “While it’s disappointing that Spin can’t immediately serve our hometown, we appreciate the Hearing Officer’s acknowledgment of our experience and capabilities, and we look forward to working with the SFMTA to serve more San Franciscans with an alternative mobility mode and hire locally from the community.”

Currently, Skip and Scoot are the only two companies permitted to operate electric scooters in SF. Since deploying their respective fleets in October, both have experienced some growing pains — mostly pertaining to theft and vandalism. That has led both Scoot and Skip to add locks to their fleets.

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