SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio is poised to drastically lower the number of permitted scooters and other dockless vehicles, though it may not change the actual number of vehicles on the streets.
Since scooters first hit San Antonio streets in June 2018, the city has been working on how to regulate them. With residents split between loving and hating them, the electric rentals went through an initial lawless phase, a city pilot program, and, most recently, a months-long bidding process to narrow down the number of scooters and their operating companies.
Now that city staff members have identified Lyft, Lime and Razor as their three recommendations for permits to operate inside San Antonio, they are also recommending a lower number of scooter permits than initially anticipated. Instead of the 5,000 permits to split between the three operators, staff members are now recommending only 3,000.
“Coming down to 1,000 per company is based on the companies communicating with us that they feel that that's the appropriate number, particularly with only three companies being deployed,” said John Jacks, director of Center City Development and Operations, after presenting to the San Antonio City Council on Wednesday.
During its pilot program, which was adopted in October 2018, the city issued 16,100 permits to seven companies. City leaders ended up cutting the number of permits allowed, and there are currently six companies operating with 6,850 permits between them.
However, city statistics show the actual number of scooters on the street is far lower than what’s permitted. The average number of vehicles deployed hit a peak of 6,703 in February, less half of the scooters that were allowed to be on the streets.
In October, the average number of vehicles deployed was at an all-time low of 2,850 — fewer than what would be permitted under the city staff recommendation.
The drop in the number of vehicles on the streets closely follows with the number of rides per month, with a high of 300,101 rides in December 2018 and a low of 100,007 in October 2019.
City staff members are also recommending the night riding curfew that currently forbids riding the scooters between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. be suspended for six months.
“Originally, the concern was that there was a high number, or higher percentage, of accidents occurring during the nighttime hours,” Jacks said. “What we've seen is just the overall accidents have actually decreased.”
The City Council is scheduled to vote on the recommendation and contracts with the three dockless vehicle companies on Dec. 12. If the measures pass, the other three scooter companies would have a month to wrap up their operations.