Lime — the San Francisco-based company behind those scooters that threatened to call the cops on people — lost a request on Friday for a temporary restraining order that would have delayed two competitors from launching in the California city next week.
TechCrunch reported Friday that Lime filed the lawsuit this week as a last-minute attempt to stop the deployment of scooters from the two companies, Skip and Scoot. The move comes in response to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) previously denying Lime a permit to operate its scooter operation in San Francisco.
Lime maintains that it was unfairly denied a permit by the SFMTA after the company deployed its scooters in March without first securing permission from the city, TechCrunch reported in August. Ahead of the respective San Francisco launches of Skip and Scoot, the only two companies selected by the city for its one-year electric scooter pilot program, Lime said it had "no choice but to seek emergency relief in the court."
Interestingly, the company said in a statement to Gizmodo that it considers the hearing in which Lime failed to secure the temporary restraining order against Skip and Skoot "a victory for the people of San Francisco and Lime." The company added:
The Honorable Harold E. Kahn voiced serious concerns about the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency's (SFMTA) permit process and ordered expedited discovery into the SFMTA's selection process.
In a rare move, the Judge ordered five key SFMTA officials and staff — including Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin himself — to testify next week. There will be another public hearing on this issue before Judge Kahn in mid-November, where the SFMTA will be required to answer to the people of San Francisco, and explain exactly what happened in the SFMTA's biased selection process.
Lime said that it didn't file the lawsuit in order to halt the operations of rival companies but rather to expose what it characterised as a "biased and flawed process" on the part of the SFMTA.
The city, for its part, said that it is pleased with the court's decision to deny Lime's request for a temporary restraining order and refuted Lime's claims that its selection process was biased. John Cote, communications director for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, told TechCrunch in a statement that its permit program was both "both fair and transparent."
"Lime just didn't like the outcome," Cote said. "The reality is that Lime's application fell notably short of its competitors. That's why it didn't get a permit. San Franciscans deserve scooter services that are safe, equitable and accountable, which is exactly what this pilot program was designed to do."
According to TechCrunch, JUMP, Spin, Lime, CycleHop, ofo, Razor, USSCooter, Lyft, and Ridecell also applied for e-scooter permits in San Francisco and were denied.