A judge has denied a request by bike and e-scooter-sharing startup Lime to delay the start of a scooter-sharing pilot program in San Francisco, reports TechCrunch. Lime felt it was unfairly excluded from the program and wanted officials to reevaluate its application.
San Francisco granted Skip and Scoot permits to rent electric scooters within its jurisdiction. Permits were scheduled to be issued on October 15, but Lime threw up a last-minute roadblock by asking the courts to hold up the process, claiming it had "no choice" but to take legal action over what it viewed as a biased application process. Permits will now be issued on schedule. Both sides are now claiming victory in the dispute.
"We're pleased the court denied Lime's request for a temporary restraining order," John Cote, communications director for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said in a statement to TechCrunch. Cote said the application process "has been both fair and transparent" and that Lime "just didn't like the outcome. Lime was denied a permit because "its application fell notably short of its competitors," Cote said.
Lime still sees a bright side to the outcome. Jack S. Song, the company's head of communications, told TechCrunch that its lawsuit is leading to more scrutiny of a "biased selection process." Five officials of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which controls electric scooter-sharing permits, will be called to testify about the application process, Song noted.
"Our decision to file this lawsuit was not about preventing other operators from going forward; it was about exposing the biased and flawed process of the SFMTA, standing up for the rule of law, and serving Lime's hometown."
Lime is one of the biggest players in the booming scooter-sharing business, but the San Francisco imbroglio could be a major setback. If San Francisco stands firm, Lime could be locked out of its home turf and could find it difficult to expand. Not wanting a repeat of the unchecked rise of Uber and Lyft, cities have been more aggressive in regulating e-scooter-sharing and bike-sharing operations.