SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Lyft became the third operator to launch e-scooters in San Jose Thursday, but was also the first to be officially permitted under the city's new regulations set to go into effect July 1.
"We're thrilled to bring Lyft Scooters to San Jose and provide a quick, affordable and sustainable way to move around - all within a single app," said Lyft Northern California Market Manager Jake Darby in an email to KPIX 5.
"Lyft is committed to a future where cities are built around people instead of private cars — and Lyft scooters can play a key role in furthering this movement locally here in San Jose," said Darby.
The brand new Lyft scooters are easy to spot, sporting bright pink and purple decals. The company is approved to have 900, and a glance at the Lyft app shows they are spread out, but are highly concentrated within the downtown area.
Bird and Lime had been operating under vague and uncertain rules in San Jose since February 2018, however the two companies are on track to receive their permits as well.
"It was important for us to have a formal relationship established with these companies, a way to have some data abut their operations, and some formal regulations about safety and customer service. And a permit program does all that," said Colin Heyne, spokesperson for the City of San Jose's Department of Transportation.
Under the new regulations, each e-scooter operator must pay an annual permit fee of $2,500, and then $124 per year, per device. Bird, Lime, and Lyft will be permitted to have 900 scooters each.
The operators must share anonymous usage data like routes and distance traveled, which the city will then use for road and construction planning. Each scooter is required to display a phone number, unique ID, and the company must respond to complaints, like break downs, or illegally parked scooters, within two hours.
Heyne says permits encourages the companies to be "better citizens" while renting the devices in San Jose.
"Now that we have permits in place, we have some leverage. We can fine these companies, We can also, if something was really, really bad, we can rescind their permits. And so, they have very specific regulations about where they can deploy these scooters," said Heyne.
Heyne said the companies are developing technology to automatically disable the motor if the scooter is on a sidewalk.
"We have pretty high confidence that they are moving towards this technology, that they are fiercely doing the research and development needed. Because this is not a problem limited to San Jose," Heyne said, "This is Silicon Valley. These are innovative tech companies, and we have high hopes that they are going to be able to pull through."
Finally, Lyft is offering unlimited 30-minute rides to qualifying low-income residents. To apply, click here: lyft.com/scooters/san-jose-ca/community
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