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While shared scooters court controversy, moped company complies with city law and prospers

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A man rides a Scoot scooter in the South of Market District. (Kevin Kelleher/ S.F. Examiner file photo)

From the New York Times to Fortune, headlines in news outlets across the country are calling out San Francisco’s renegade new transit mode: “shared” electric scooters.

But while praise and ire are publicly hurled at the e-scooters, moped company Scoot is quietly working hand-in-hand with The City’s permitting process.

No unauthorized rollout. No City Hall fights. No “disruption.” The end result?

Moped use is booming, according to data newly revealed at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors meeting Tuesday,

Scoot rents red mopeds that are unlockable by smartphone, much like the new e-scooters. But the company launched in 2012 while complying with SFMTA permitting processes.

Last year the transportation agency allowed Scoot customers to park their mopeds at shorter curbs and granted a parking meter exemption.

In exchange, Scoot provided its data to SFMTA, which was combined with other city data to show the mopeds are now being used about four times a day, on average, versus one time a day before the permit changes. The vehicles used to sit idle for ten hours at a time, and now are only idle for about two hours, on average.

Earlier on Tuesday, the SFMTA board heard the public decry e-scooters companies for hours for launching their vehicles on San Francisco streets without city approval, an approach that elicited cease-and-desist letters from the City Attorney’s Office. Television cameras and lobbyists watched the proceedings keenly. After the vote, City Hall Room 400 emptied out leaving only a handful of people.

SFMTA staffer Tracy Minicucci then calmly presented the Scoot data, which raised the eyebrows of SFMTA Board of Directors Vice Chair Malcolm Heinicke.

“What you’re saying is they’re succeeding even though they came to us as an agency first?” Heinicke said. “That’s a little lesson, late in the evening.”

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