Four Scooter Companies to Leave D.C. After Losing Permit Appeals

Four e-scooter companies; Bird, Lime, Bolt, and Razor, will leave Washington, D.C. after losing the appeal of the rejection of their operating permit late last year. The companies will all stop operating by March 31. The four scooter companies that will be allowed to operate starting April 1 are Jump, Lyft, Skip and Spin.

“We’re disappointed with this decision and will continue to explore our options to keep serving D.C. residents,” a spokesperson for Lime said.

“We wanted to make sure that companies who were not selected as part of the initial review had an opportunity to appeal the decision, to have an independent review of their application to make sure it was scored and evaluated fairly… The conclusion of the hearing officer was that the overall process was fair,” DDOT Director Jeff Marootian said.

Although the District of Columbia initially allowed eight operating scooter companies, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced that only four out of the eight operators would be permitted in 2020.  While the number of operators would decrease, each would be allowed to expand the number of scooters deployed. The four operators that were not allowed to operate appealed the decision. The DDOT expanded permits until March 31.

“We know that by limiting it to four companies, we’re able to better manage the program, allow those companies to add more scooters, but also to make sure that the public is safe, that our sidewalks are clear, and that we have a well-managed scooter micromobility process going forward,” DDOT Director Jeff Marootian said.

The scooter companies were evaluated on a 198-point score-scale, which examined their previous behavior and future plans. The permits were awarded to the highest scorers. The scoring was broken down into eight parts: accountability, sound equipment design, safety, innovation, equitable access, labor, sustainability, and data. At least 121 points were needed, but only the top four companies would be allowed to operate in 2020.

“Safety is the most important component of this program,” he said. “Companies were evaluated not only on their past safety performance but also on their plans to ensure the safety of riders in the future.” DDOT Director Jeff Marootian said.

The four companies allowed to operate will be allowed to deploy 2,500 scooters each, for a total of 10,000 scooters in the city. Currently, each operator has around 1,000 scooters.

Allowing Skip to continue operations has caused some frustration by the exiting companies; a Skip skip scooter caught fire last summer, due to faulty lithium batteries. D.C. allowed Skip to continue operating after taking more safety measures.

The operators must allow DDOT to install GPS trackers on a random sample of scooters to research. The companies must report any potential public safety issues within 24 hours.  DDOT also requires that each company operate at least 20 scooters each of the District’s eight wards, and caps the number of scooters in the central business district at 1,000.