City wants to reduce scooter population by more than half

by Gaige DavilaApril 22, 2019
The City of San Antonio is working to reduce the number of scooters allowed to operate in San Antonio. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

By Oct. 1, the city could allow a maximum of three dockless vehicle companies to have 5,000 permits between them, Assistant City Manager Lori Houston said during a city-hosted telephone town hall last week.

The City Council is expected to consider the plan in about six weeks.

Currently, there are permits for 14,100 scooter and 2,000 e-bike issued to seven dockless vehicle companies. Houston said about 6,000 vehicles are deployed daily.

Dockless vehicle total
The city of San Antonio has issued permits for 14,100 dockless vehicles to six companies so far.
» Bird—4,500
» Jump—4,000 (2,000 e-scooters, 2,000 e-bikes)
» Lime—4,000
» Razor—1,000
» Spin—500 (has not deployed)
» Blue Duck—100

Next Monday, on April 29, officials with the Center City Development and Operations department (CCDO) will meet with the council’s Transportation Committee to revisit the dockless vehicle pilot program, and recommend that dockless vehicle vendors go through a request for proposal (RFP) process to determine the three that will be allowed to operate in San Antonio.

CCDO will present its recommendation and the committee’s feedback to City Council during a B session on May 15.

A vote of the full City Council is expected in late May or early June.

The dockless vehicle pilot program—initially, a six-month pilot program that launched Oct. 19—was first amended on Feb. 14 based on recommendations from a Transportation Committee meeting in January, when its members issued a moratorium on permits.

The scooter reduction is expected to happen sooner than Oct. 1. As dockless vehicle permits begin expiring over the summer, operators must receive an extension from the city. If they’re granted one, the companies will have to reduce their vehicles in half if they have more than 1,000 permitted.

If companies aren't granted an extension, they'll be forced to begin phasing out their vehicles, CCDO Director John Jacks said.

The end dates of the permits issued to dockless vehicle operators weren't available last week, CCDO spokesperson Kelly Saunders said.

Still, there are more companies interested in deploying vehicles in the city.

In January, shortly sfter the Transportation Committee issued a moratorium on dockless vehicles permits, Mexico City-based Grin and Santa Monica, Calif.-based Ojo—which has scooters that can be ridden sitting or standing, similar to Razor—applied for permits. These companies, and the seven currently operating, could all apply to be one of the three operators chosen.

During this process, the companies must detail how they would solve issues residents and the city have had with vehicles since they first hit San Antonio streets last summer.

The city will ask operators how they’ll encourage good riding behavior, like parking in designated areas and away from crosswalks and the street; and how they’ll incorporate geofencing technology into their vehicles, to limit speed and operation in prohibited areas.

“We’re looking for three companies and three plans that address the issues we’re seeing,” Jacks said during a phone interview.

When asked if the cap will limit dockless vehicles to the inner city, Jacks said the vehicle and operator cap could change in the future if dockless vehicle companies agreed to place scooters in underserved areas around San Antonio, but is waiting until after the cap’s establishment to consider it.

Contact Gaige Davila: 956-372-4776 | gaige@saheron.com | @gaigedavila on Twitter

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