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Austin Stops Issuing New Licenses For Dockless Scooters And Bikes While It Conducts Review

Dockless scooters on Rainey Street in Austin on Oct. 11, 2018.
Emree Weaver
The city said it's reassessing the nearly 18,000 dockless devices licensed in Austin.

The Austin Transportation Department is holding off on issuing new licenses to dockless mobility companies for the time being.

City officials said they're reassessing the more than 17,650 dockless devices licensed in Austin to ensure they're a “safe, reliable, convenient transportation option for residents.”

Staff will determine if licenses will continue to be issued after the assessment.

ATD said it will look at the mandatory monthly reports companies turn in to determine how many scooters and bikes a company can reasonably manage. It will also review whether the devices impede access to sidewalks, roads or buildings.

“What I think that the city is responding to is an oversaturation in the market right now," said Elliott McFadden, executive director of Austin B-cycle, the city's bike share program. Austin B-cycle has partnered with scooter company Ojo, which is bringing a fleet of 100 sit-down scooters to Austin by the end of next month.

McFadden said he thinks the city wants to "limit the amount of chaos" during South by Southwest.

Ten companies hold dockless mobility contracts with the city. Under the current ordinance, companies can deploy up to 500 devices in a downtown zone that extends into parts of South and East Austin. Additional licenses outside downtown are also issued under certain circumstances.  

Transportation officials said they are not commenting on the license pause and that a timeline for when it will be lifted is unknown right now.

DaLyah Jones is a former assistant producer for All Things Considered and evening host. She is also co-host of the Two & Fro podcast.
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