SFMTA allows shared scooter companies to expand provided they serve low-income users

After a rough start with scooters last year, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is rewarding the companies who played by the rules, by allowing them to double their fleets, but there's a catch. 

At San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday, SFMTA gave shared electric rental scooter companies Scoot and Skip its blessing and room to grow. 

Data from the year-long pilot program study, now about halfway complete, shows 40 percent of the folks using scooters; had there not been a scooter, would have driven their own car or would have taken an Uber or a Lyft, according to Tom McGuire with SFMTA. 

The study also found that the majority of the users were white males, working downtown, with incomes of over $100,000 a year. 

Going forward, the number of permitted scooters could be doubled (an increase of 1,250 scooters for both Skip and Scoot) as long as the two authorized scooter companies provide for low-income users as well as underserved communities.

"We want them to enroll 150 low-income members consistent with the commitments they made when they got the permits," said McGuire.

Many folks living the the outer districts approve. "It would be great to have them near our houses so we can take them to get to Muni, to get to the train. So combine them with other means of transportation to get to work,' said regular scooter user Marina Privorotsky.

"One of the really interesting things we found is that over a third of the trips that are being made on the scooters were being made by people trying to get to mass transit," said McGuire.

When similar scooter companies like Lime deployed their fleets on city streets, they became the target of much criticism for its riders leaving the scooters piled on the sidewalks, creating tripping hazards. They were eventually removed from city streets and sidewalks and not allowed to return through a new permit program.

Under stricter rules placed on the city's two authorized scooter providers, Skip and Scoot, have made an attempt to change their forms of transportation into a positive thing.

Riding on and improper parking of scooters on sidewalks, was significantly reduced. The scooters are now locked to parking meters, signs and bike racks in order to clear pedestrian walkways. 

Though state law does not require scooter riders over age 18 to wear helmets, helmet use is always encouraged.