Uber and Lyft looking to start offering electric scooter services

Uber Scooter Program

According to a report from Axios, both Uber and Lyft have applied for permits under a San Francisco pilot program aimed at putting a cap on the number of shared scooters on city streets.

The city wants to control the scooter sharing via a permitting process during a program of one year. In the first six months there will 1,250 scooters on the streets and, if deemed successful, the number could be doubled for the rest of the year.

Lyft was reportedly in talks to acquire bike-share company Motivate, the company behind Citi Bikes in NY and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. Nearly instantly, hundreds of scooters swarmed the sidewalks.

Electric scooters can certainly be an eco-friendly way to get around town, with the cost to ride them as cheap as $0.15 per minute.

"As part of their permit application, companies must demonstrate how they will minimize their impact on San Francisco's sidewalks, while maximizing their transparency to the public", the SFMTA explained in how it'll choose which applicants will receive the permits. "This permit program represents a thoughtful, coordinated and effective approach to ensure that San Francisco strikes the right balance".

Operators that are given new scooter permits must provide user education in order to be insured, share trip information with the city, as well as have a private policy that offers plans for uses that are low-income. Aside from Uber and Lyft, scooter startups Bird, Lime, and Spin are also looking to get a piece of the action. The deadline to apply was Thursday.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The other companies are Scoot, Skip, Razor, Hopr, USSCooter and Ridecell. Lyft is rumored to be getting into bike rentals too with a possible acquisition of Motivate.

With Uber joining the fray, at least seven companies are vying for a maximum of five scooter permits in San Francisco.

For both Lyft and Uber it's unclear if the applications mean they'll be building out their own fleet of e-scooters that unlock via a credit card-linked mobile app, or partnering or acquiring an established scooter-share company.

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