Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018
News

The slow expansion of the D.C. electric scooter program, the higher fees and more rules disappoint businesses and supporters

A runner crosses the city by electric scooter. (Bill O 'Leary / The Washington Post) A reporter from Luz Lazo Transportation covering the subway, buses, Capital Bikeshare and taxis, as well as the road network of the region, on November 8 at 7:00. Electric scooter companies wishing to continue operating in the district will have to offer customers a cash payment option, restrict the speed of scooters to 10 mph and pay significantly higher fees to the city under the latest regulations in effect. in the industry. The guidelines, which will come into effect in January, also include fees of up to $ 5 per month per scooter or bicycle, which could add up to $ 36,000 per year per business. However, companies will also be able to increase the number of scooters in their fleet from 400 to 600, although industry officials claim that this is not enough to meet the demand. Some critics question the fact that the city's new licensing process makes it attractive for businesses to stay in the nation's capital in the long run. The new regulations also apply to bikes without pedestals, which were the first to arrive in the district last year and were followed by electric scooters in the spring. Most motorcycles had disappeared by the end of the summer, as scooters were becoming more popular and were used more frequently for daily commutes. "The proposed fleet of 600 vehicles is simply not enough to meet the transportation needs of the city," said Mary Caroline Pruitt, Lime spokesperson, who began her business with bikes without dock but has since moved to mostly electronic scooters. "We want to be able to reliably and fairly serve the city's inhabitants throughout the city, but we can only do so if the ceiling is significantly increased." The city has maintained a hard line by limiting the size of the parks of scooters and motorcycles without dock since the platform-free program launched in September 2017. With the new expansion, there could be up to 3,000 scooters with five different suppliers in the city, well below the 20,000 followers envisaged by some. [Scooter rider fatally struck by SUV in Dupont Circle, officials say] Jeff Marootian, director of the district's transportation department, said the new requirements "reflect the promise" that the agency sees in the program while addressing "legitimate concerns" regarding safety and fairness. Some critics say the promise is short-term, noting that the district's approach has limited service growth and lagged behind other major cities. Portland, Oregon, for example, has approved up to 20,000 scooters. In an interview last month, Dave Estrada, head of government relations and politics at Bird, said the district's actions did not match his promise to reduce traffic jams by promoting alternative modes of transportation. He said that the limitation of fleets is too restrictive and punitive for companies. Companies operating both bicycles and scooters will need to apply for separate approvals for each mode. That means they'll get 600 bikes and 600 scooters if they want. Companies can then request that their fleet be increased up to 25% after an assessment by DDOT. In addition to an annual fee of $ 60 per vehicle, companies will pay an annual fee of up to $ 500 and a $ 10,000 deposit that may be retained by DDOT in the event that the company does not meet the requirements, including by not removing dangerous equipment from service. . The cost per vehicle is well below the $ 200 per bike or scooter that the city has considered earlier this year. [D.C. Mayor Bowser unveils reset of her Vision Zero campaign as traffic deaths surpass 2017 total] Scooters will need to be tuned to a maximum speed of 10mph, while e-bikes should not be able to exceed 20mph. Companies must offer special tariff plans to low-income people and allow them to pay in cash. They will continue to provide travel data to the city and will have scooters and bicycles in all areas of the city. This requirement is more ceremonial than anything else; they must already have at least six vehicles in each neighborhood, which means that it is still unlikely that companies are deploying many more vehicles in underserved areas east of the Anacostia River. To respond to complaints about abandoned bikes and scooters, sidewalks, yards, parks, and other areas, all businesses will need to have a toll-free phone number on their vehicle so callers can report bikes and scooters found parked illegally. And manufacturers without bikes must provide users with a way to lock their bikes on racks or poles. Service advocates are frustrated by the district's approach to regulating services. They say that it is unfair to limit the number of bikes and scooters without a dock when there is no limit to the number of vehicles that Uber and Lyft can drive in town. the counterfactual would be obvious if Uber and Lyft were capped at 15 mph and 600 cars – sharrowsDC (@sharrowsDC) November 5, 2018 "The DC government has never seriously wanted to work without a dock and this regulation goes in that direction," said bike advocate Brian McEntee earlier this week. McEntee, a cyclist who does not use scooters, said that "the obvious counterfactual" would be if Uber and Lyft were capped at 15 mph and 600 cars. [24/7 Uber and Lyft pickup zones coming to D.C.] When the dockless program started last fall, five companies offered bikes. But last spring, the program was extended to mainly electric scooters. Operators Mobike and Ofo left the pilot this summer, citing their frustration at the city's restrictions on fleet size. A few weeks later, Spin took out his bikes, saying they would come back with scooters. Jump, the company owned by Uber, continues to rent e-bikes. Lime has gone from bikes to most scooters. Today, most companies operating dockless systems in the city are scooter suppliers. This includes Bird, Skip, Lime and the latest addition: Lyft. Runners and anyone interested can share their thoughts on the program and the new licensing process with DDOT here. .

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