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Uber, Lyft eye two-wheeled business: Electric scooters

Uber and Lyft are among the companies vying for electric scooter permits in San Francisco as the ride-sharing companies seek to move beyond their roots in autos. 

San Francisco has temporarily halted use of the motorized scooters in sharing programs in an attempt to restore order on sidewalks and streets, as the latest transportation trend exploded in popularity. The city is seeking to control the scooter sharing through a permitting process during a one-year pilot program effective June 1. At least 10 companies applied for the permits, but only five permits will be granted, the city has said

Other than motorized scooters, Uber has introduced electric-assist bikes to its app in cities including San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz and Washington through its acquisition of the bike-sharing company Jump. Lyft is also looking into starting a sharing service for electric-assist bikes.

The news about Uber and Lyft applying for scooter permits was first reported by Axios.

In San Francisco. Uber and Lyft will be competing for permits against electric-scooter providers Bird, Lime and Spin. Those three companies in March "unloaded hundreds of motorized scooters" across the city, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority said in May. The onslaught meant the city had to take measures to ensure public safety, it said.

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Operators that win the new scooter permits will need to provide user education, be insured, share trip data with the city, have a privacy policy and offer a plan for low-income users. They also need to submit a proposed service area and have a plan in place to address sidewalk riding and parking. 

It cost the companies $5,000 to apply for a permit; winners will pay the city $25,000 a year and contribute $10,000 to a property repair and maintenance endowment. 

For the first year, San Francisco will allow a maximum of 2,500 scooters if all goes well during the first six months of the pilot program. At the end of May, city officials ordered sharing companies to remove their scooters from the streets by June 4. 

The application process for permits ended June 7, and winners will be announced by the end of June.

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