DDOT Addresses Inequities in Access to Dockless Transportation (1-16-19)

With its new regulations for operating dockless vehicles, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) displays a commitment to ensuring the availability of dockless technology in SE DC.

By DFHV Interim Director David Do

The frustration expressed by dockless vehicle operators over limits on their fleet sizes has received some media coverage, but there’s another newsworthy aspect of DDOT’s changes to its Dockless Vehicles Program for 2019—ensuring that dockless vehicles are available in all eight wards of DC.

Data obtained by the research firm Coord from four companies operating dockless scooters in the District revealed that none of them offered any scooter availability in Anacostia. This exemplifies the ongoing issue of access to transportation options in Wards 7 and 8, where dockless technology could serve as a low-cost first and last mile transportation solution.

As of January, dockless vehicle operators are required to deploy at least six vehicles in each ward by 6:00 a.m. daily. They must also offer payment options that do not require a smartphone for trip rentals, as well as cash-payment options and low-income pricing plans. According to DDOT, this includes providing “unlimited trips under 30 minutes to any customer with an income level at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.”

DDOT issued a press release on Friday, December 21st, 2018 to announce that conditional approval for permits to operate dockless vehicles in 2019 was granted to Hopr (motorized bikes and electric scooters), Jump (motorized bikes), Lyft (electric scooters), Razor (electric scooters), Ridecell (motorized bikes and electric scooters), Skip (electric scooters), Spin (electric scooters), and Wind (electric scooters).

Additionally, DDOT is still in the process of “conforming technical details and the operators’ ability to meet all requirements” for Bird (electric scooters), Jump (electric scooters), Lime (motorized bikes and electric scooters), Riide (motorized bikes), and VeoRide (electric scooters). If those operators can sufficiently demonstrate their ability to meet DDOT’s terms and conditions, their permits will be granted no later than March 2nd, 2019.

Although dockless operators will initially only be allowed 600 vehicles per permit, they can be issued a quarterly fleet expansion of 25% per permit based on their performance. This means that companies operating both dockless scooters and motorized bikes could be operating more than 2,300 vehicles total by the fourth quarter of 2019.

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