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KPBS Midday Edition

City to limit number of e-bike and scooter operators in San Diego

Bird, Link and Spin scooters are seen by an MTS bus stop in Mission Bay Park, March 30, 2021.
Andrew Bowen
Bird, Link and Spin scooters are seen by an MTS bus stop in Mission Bay Park, March 30, 2021.

Electric scooters and bikes are available for rent around San Diego for people to use for transportation or even just a leisurely ride around town. But in order for those devices to be offered for rent, each operator had to apply for a permit.

If an operator fulfilled all the requirements, they were issued a permit. But recently, the city decided to change the process and limit the number of operators and devices in an effort to better serve the community.

KPBS Midday Edition Producer Emilyn Mohebbi spoke with the city of San Diego's Sustainability and Mobility Department director Alyssa Muto about how the city will go about doing that.

"We are moving forward with our first request for proposals for scooter operations within the city of San Diego," Muto said. "Under the RFP, we will limit the amount of operators from unlimited, to two to four operators, and a maximum number of 8,000 scooters within the city of San Diego."

Muto said the city did a comprehensive analysis of 35 cities across the nation before deciding how San Diego would permit shared mobility device operators.

"In the city of San Diego, we identified having two to four operators as being the optimal arrangement for our city to give us the opportunity to have competition, (with) technology and rates, as well as an equity program, and to provide for partnerships to allow us to have better transparency and data management of the scooter operators citywide," Muto said.

There are currently seven operators within the city of San Diego. Those include Bird, Lime, Link, Lyft, Spin, Veo and Wheels.

Corrected: November 24, 2021 at 3:58 PM PST
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect number of e-device operators. It has been corrected.