Despite a promise that it wouldn’t prioritize lucrative wealthy areas of San Francisco over low-income zones, electric scooter company Scoot has blocked drop-offs in two of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, according to a new report.
When the firm, bought by Bird in June, was applying to San Francisco’s transportation agency for highly sought-after permits to operate, it pledged it would “serve more of San Francisco than other operators who will focus on the busiest and most lucrative neighborhoods,” the L.A. Times reported Thursday.
As a condition for joining the city’s scooter pilot program, Scoot specifically promised it would prioritize serving the Tenderloin and Chinatown as “communities of concern,” according to the newspaper.
And it said that if it received all the permits it wanted, it would reach “much further” into the Tenderloin, the paper reported.
However, in a move that echoes historical race- and ethnicity-based “red-lining” of neighborhoods that blocked residents inside the lines from getting loans, Scoot — which advertises “hundreds of scooters to pick up and drop off anywhere in SF,” has literally drawn red lines around the Tenderloin and Chinatown on its app.
This is after the city’s transportation agency evaluated would-be scooter purveyors in part on their plans to serve low-income residents, and gave Scoot one of two spots in the pilot, calling the company “a safe, equitable and accountable scooter share service,” the paper reported.
The company told the L.A.Times its no-drop-off zones in San Francisco were in compliance with the pilot program. A spokesperson for the city’s transportation agency said Scoot is required to keep 20 percent of scooters in designated “communities of concern,” and has consistently satisfied that obligation, according to the Times report.
“The rest of our Pilot permit was not prescriptive about service area and it is up to our two permittees to decide which parts of the City to serve, so while we can encourage them to serve certain neighborhoods, it’s ultimately up to them,” the spokesperson said.
Scoot has also drawn red lines around areas of Oakland, its app shows, including Lake Merritt, where numerous scooters have taken a bath, and around Oakland Technical High School.
The company did not immediately respond to a request from this news organization for an explanation of the exclusion zones.
Lime, a scooter company left out of the pilot, also operates in Oakland and excludes Lake Merritt and Oakland Technical. A Lime spokesperson said city officials had asked it to close to drop-offs the area surrounding Lake Merritt, and exclude Oakland Technical. Lime also excluded all the other schools in Oakland, the spokesman said.
Leo Castañeda contributed to this report.