Bird finds possible loophole to operate scooters in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Eight months after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced it would grant permits to two scooter companies for participation in a one-year pilot program, a third company not chosen seems to have found a loophole to scoot back into San Francisco.

Bird announced a monthly personal rental program, giving San Francisco customers the option to rent a Bird scooter at a flat rate for an entire month. For $24.99, Bird will deliver a scooter, charger, and lock to someone's home or work, and pick everything up when the rental period ends.

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"Once again Bird is giving San Francisco the proverbial bird," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

In August 2018, after reviewing 12 applications and 800 pages of proposals, the SFMTA granted permits for a one-year powered scooter share pilot program to companies Scoot and Skip.

The SFMTA publicly shared ratings for all the applicants. Bird received two "fair" ratings in the safety and disabled access categories. It also received "poor" ratings in those same categories and all of the other categories considered.

"There might be a loophole in the law, if there is, I suspect given the thousands of complaints we received against Bird before we had our permitting system, that we'll close that loophole. If it's illegal now the city will do what it did last year, we'll go pick them all up and collect them and fine them," said Peskin.

In an emailed statement, an SFMTA spokesperson said, "We learned about this new program today and are going to get more details to determine whether or not this program complies with existing regulations."

A spokesperson for the San Francisco City Attorney's Office told ABC7 News, "We're evaluating this new service to see if it complies with state and local laws."

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Bird already operates its shared scooters in cities like Oakland and San Jose.

It would not comment to ABC7 News on the record about the latest concerns in San Francisco.
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