The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced new restrictions on Tuesday for its dockless vehicle sharing program. Accordingly, half of the companies currently operating escooters are getting the boot in 2020.
DDOT reported in its news release that it will allow “four permits to operate a total of 10,000 scooters and two permits to operate a total of 5,000 e-bikes in the calendar year 2020.” The department launched its first dockless vehicle pilot last year to collect data about car-free transportation options.
Of the 19 applications it received for dockless vehicle permits, one was to operate traditional bikes, five came from companies wanting to operate motorized bicycles and the majority of applications came from escooter operators, accounting for 13. Ultimately, DDOT said applicants needed to receive a minimum of 121 points on a scoring scale of 198 to be considered.
The four highest scoring applicants were granted permits: Lyft Scooter, Spin and Skip were all granted escooter permits, while Jump was granted an escooter and ebike permit. The final ebike permit was granted to an unfamiliar company called HelBiz, which is not currently operating in the District. Each escooter operator will be allowed to deploy up to 2,500 vehicles each, and each ebike operator gets up to 2,500 vehicles as well. Founded in 2015, HelBiz is headquartered in New York and closed a $10 million investment round back in August.
This means that the department it is not renewing permits for Bird, Lime, Razor and Bolt to operate in the District next year.
“Dockless vehicles are part of our effort to meet Mayor Bowser’s goal to create reliable, accessible transportation options for Washingtonians across all eight wards,” said DDOT Director Jeff Marootian in a statement. “The District’s 2020 dockless vehicle sharing program is rooted in thoughtful expansion, program evaluation and feedback from stakeholders.”
This could be surprising to some, given that Lime just released its new escooter model in D.C. less than a month ago. This reporter is also wondering if Skip’s battery malfunction over the summer was considered during the review process.
In the news release, DDOT didn’t comment on whether this shift would be the end of its current dockless vehicle pilot program, but it talked about potentially launching a new pilot program to test “non-traditional shared dockless vehicles that do not meet the current definition of personal mobility devices or bicycles.” Could that include dockless mopeds as previously mentioned? We’ll see.
The department also mentioned that it will be installing 100 off-sidewalk parking corrals in all eight wards for dockless escooters and ebikes to be parked.