The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has suspended the permit allowing San Francisco-based mobility company Skip to deploy electric scooters in D.C., the Washington Post and NBC4 report. The permit suspension, expected to last for at least 30 days, follows a fire at Skip’s District warehouse early Wednesday that the company linked to used batteries.
It also comes after a Skip scooter caught fire in downtown D.C. in late May, leading Skip to temporarily pull its electric scooters from service in the District and San Francisco. DDOT, which gave Skip 24 hours Wednesday afternoon to remove the vehicles, told the Post it had also learned of two other Skip-related fires that occurred last fall. Skip’s D.C. permit allows for as many as 720 scooters, out of the nearly 5,000 total shared scooters and bikes allowed currently. (The latter number could grow in the coming months with additional operators.)
On Twitter, Skip said it was “fully cooperating” with the fire investigation and is working to accelerate how it disposes used batteries. The storage bin where the fire is believed to have originated “contained batteries removed as a result of the proper operation of Skip’s quality control process,” the company wrote. In a statement, a Skip spokesperson said the operator is complying with DDOT’s suspension order and noted that the fire started in a storage area. “This was not an issue with scooters in the field, either deployed or charging,” they added. “We are fully cooperating with authorities to ensure a speedy and responsible return to DC.”
Early this morning, our DC warehouse experienced a limited fire which investigators believe to be started in a bin of removed batteries. This was not a scooter fire and it was not a charging-related fire.— Skip (@SkipScooters) June 19, 2019
The storage bin contained batteries removed as a result of the proper operation of Skip's quality control process. Our DC warehouse team is working with experts to expedite the disposal of used batteries and is fully cooperating in the investigation.— Skip (@SkipScooters) June 20, 2019
“DDOT’s priority is to maintain the safety of the public space and will continue to monitor the situation over the coming days,” the department told the Post and NBC4 in a statement. The District began allowing dockless vehicles in 2017 and has since expanded the program. Skip is now one of six companies permitted to offer shared electric scooters or bikes in D.C.
This post has been updated with additional comment from Skip.