Nine companies applied for the three exclusive licenses to operate electric scooter fleets in San Antonio. Lyft, Bird, Lime, Ojo Electric, Razor, Spin, VeoRide, Frog Scooters and Wheels labs will be considered in coming months for the right to operate on San Antonio streets. The licenses allow companies to increase profits by reducing competition in a city that currently hosts six companies and thousands of e-scooters.
Blue Duck scooters, the only local company, will not be among them.
Only companies that submitted before the July 22 11 a.m. deadline would be considered, said city staff. The company had missed the deadline by one minute, but attempted to get an exception based on extenuating circumstances.
City Manager Erik Walsh, city auditor Kevin Barthold, and former city attorney Frank Garza met with the company.
“I understand how disappointed the Blue Duck team will be with our decision,” wrote Erik Walsh in a letter to Blue Duck’s lawyers obtained by TPR in an open records request. “However, we must ensure our processes are fair and applied consistently unless there are truly extenuating circumstances that require a different outcome.”
Blue Duck staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Now its scooters as well as those of companies not selected will need to be removed from city streets on Sept. 30, when current permits expire.
The decision to reduce the number of companies and their scooters came after a six-month pilot program that saw permit numbers grow to 14,000 e-scooters and 2,000 dockless bikes. Along with those permit numbers were numbers of complaints.
Three months into the pilot support for scooters among council members waned. City staff proposed changes that placed a moratorium on new scooter companies entering the market and scooter permits being issued. Council accepted the proposals. In May, council again voted to curb scooter numbers, authorizing a three exclusive contract scheme along with a further reduction in scooter permits — halving the number of permits for companies with more than 1,000.
The hope is exclusive contracts allow city staff to better monitor and control the behavior of scooter companies while collecting more revenue that can be used to improve infrastructure and cover enforcement.
City staff will recommend three companies to council for a vote in coming months.