In late December, Washington, DC’s District Department of Transportation (DDOT) stated that it would hold off on its previously planned regulatory changes to electric scooter companies in the nation’s capital. In early December, DDOT announced that only four of the eight operating companies, including Jump, Lyft, Skip and Spin, would be permitted to operate in DC in 2020, and those companies would be allowed to expand to 10,000 dockless scooters total or 2,500 each, about a 60 percent increase. However, Bird, Lime, Razor, and Bolt would not be permitted to operate in DC.
DDOT has decided that it will look at appeals to the 2020 permit plan for those companies that were denied 2020 permits after some companies challenged its selection process. DDOT announced that it would extend 2019 permits until March 31, 2020, to ensure access to e-scooters and e-bikes while it considers appeals to its awarded 2020 permits. Those operating under an extended 2019 permits must operate under 2019 rules and those operating with a 2020 permit may begin doing so on January 1, 2020, as part of the 2020 plan. Those appealing must do so by January 2 and the DDOT will issue a decision by February 28.
The 2020 plan also allowed for the approved operation of two e-bike companies, HelBiz and Jump, at a 2,500 bike cap each beginning in January.
“Bird is pleased to have clarity on the appeals process that the District released and supports the city’s decision to extend the pilot program until March 2020. We look forward to continuing our conversations with the city and remain committed to providing sustainable, safe transportation to residents of the District of Columbia,” Bird said in a statement.
DDOT used a 198-point score scale to determine which operators would be awarded permits in 2020. To be awarded a permit, at least 121 points were needed; the four highest-scoring providers were granted permits for 2020. Though Bird, Lime, and Razor all scored at least 121 points, they were not in the top-scoring group. The scores were based on factors such as innovation, safety, labor practices, dedication to accessibility and accountability.
It is unclear how DDOT will evaluate appeals and if more companies will be granted permits as a result of the appeals. City officials believe that fewer operators would make oversight and regulation easier.