The return of the e-scooters has officially arrived. City Hall has picked three companies out of 12 applicants to take part in Portland's second pilot program, and is finalizing approval for another four.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced this morning that Bolt, Lime and Spin will be permitted to start deploying scooters starting today.

PBOT spokesman John Brady says Lime and Spin plan to start releasing scooters to city streets today.

Ariella Stienhorn, a Spin spokesperson, says the company will launch with 525 scooters.

"As we scale our fleet in the coming months we're committed to complementing public transit, replacing short car trips, and hiring locally to deliver reliable operations," Stienhorn says.

Alex Youn, a spokesperson for Lime, says the company will deploy 500 scooters. A representative Bolt could not immediately be reached for comment, but Brady says Bolt does not plan to start service today.

This second, year-long pilot program will end April 26, 2020. The initial number of scooters allowed in Portland will start at 2,500 but could grow to up to 9,000.

To reduce sidewalk riding and improper parking, PBOT plans to charge per-ride fees to fund greenway and protected bike lane projects. It has also started marking parts of city sidewalks as designated scooter parking areas.

Scooter parking spot (PBOT)
Scooter parking spot (PBOT)

One company that operated in Portland during the first pilot program, Skip, says the city's new regulations and fees were too prohibitive for the company to apply for a second trial permit.

"While Skip proudly participated in Portland's initial pilot and values its strong relationship with Portland regulators," a spokesperson says, "the cost structure and burdensome requirements in the recent changes to the pilot caused Skip to forego a return to Portland while concentrating on cities where long term sustainable scooter sharing is better positioned to succeed."

Four other companies—Clevr Mobility, Jump, Razor USA, Shared Technologies, Inc.—are in the process of submitting final documents to the city for permitting, and PBOT says it expects them to also launch in the coming weeks.

"Our streets are a valuable public asset—if private industry wants access to our streets, they have to demonstrate alignment with our values and priorities, pay a reasonable fee for the privilege, and deliver social benefit," transportation commissioner Chloe Eudaly says in a statement. "This second scooter pilot will allow us to gather more data, increase equity and accessibility, and make the most of this 'last mile' technology in Portland."