San Francisco’s scooters are white dude transport machines

The future?
The future?
Image: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
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New data from the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority (SFMTA) confirm what many may have already assumed: Most scooter riders in the City by the Bay are rich white men.

That’s despite the fact that Skip and Scoot, the two scooter-sharing companies licensed to operate in San Francisco, have reduced-rate plans for riders who receive select welfare benefits from the city’s government.

Just 76 scooter riders take advantage of scooter-sharing company Skip’s subsidized rate plan according to SFMTA, which would be less than 0.4% of Skip’s 20,000 unique riders in March. That being said, only 9% of riders across Skip and its competitor Scoot that the SFMTA surveyed for its study were eligible for the program.

A Skip spokesperson says that the public infrastructure—like bike lanes—required by the city for any company that wants to operate a scooter fleet in San Francisco in lower-income neighborhoods doesn’t exist, explaining some of the skewed data.

However, without more data about how scooters impact the city’s transit city as a whole, it’s unclear how scooters actually affect low-income riders. If scooters replace cars, it might relieve congestion and allow buses to run faster, Jacob Baskin, chief technology officer of transit data company Coord, said. 

“The equity and mobility outcomes of scooters extend beyond just their riders because they affect the city’s transportation network more broadly,” he said.