West Midlands e-scooter trial gets underway
Swedish company Voi has launched a trial of e-scooters in the West Midlands.
The trial goes live first to the public in Birmingham and Coventry from today (10 September) and will be rolled out across the region soon after, covering Sandwell (West Bromwich), Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Warwickshire.
Voi was appointed by TfWM, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), on a sole operator basis following a tender process. The firm started Europe’s first dockless e-scooter service in 2018 and now operates in 45 cities across 11 countries.
The 12-month trial in the West Midlands will be closely reviewed by the Department of Transport and Transport for West Midlands working closely with local authorities and stakeholders, with a view to establishing longer-term options for e-scooters in the region.
The trial, which follows the announcement by the DfT earlier this year that it was fast-tracking work on e-scooters, will enable e-scooters to be used on any 30mph or less road in the region – but users will need to stick to a speed limit of 15.5mph on roads, as set by the DfT.
The council has also advised users to use designated cycle routes wherever possible.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street said: “E-scooters will help bring more flexibility, choice, and greener travel solutions for the West Midlands, at a time when we are facing a climate emergency and urging people to leave the car at home. E-scooters unquestionably offer a healthier, more environmentally friendly, alternative to the car for shorter journeys around our towns and cities, which will in turn help to ease traffic congestion and tackle air pollution.”
Up to 10,000 e-scooters are due to be deployed across the region over the course of the trial. Birmingham and Coventry will initially start with 200 each, with demand monitored by Voi – working closely with Local Authorities.
Riders will need a provisional or full driving licence to unlock an e-scooter. They will cost £1 to unlock and 20p per minute to ride, however there will be reduced rates for NHS workers, students and those on low incomes. Those who are looking to use the e-scooters regularly can have unlimited rides for £40 per month. Private e-scooters will not be permitted as part of the trial.
The Voi scheme will meet and exceed government requirements on age limits, insurance and rider verification. The firm will provide in-person and online rider education, rider identity verification and will make #RideLikeVoila – its online traffic school – available to users in the West Midlands.
Lucy Yu, Voi’s director of public policy, said: “In the UK, 60% of car journeys are between one and three miles, which significantly increases congestion. Cars no longer suit the way we live today, and we estimate that 20% of short journeys could be replaced by low-carbon e-scooters with a minimum five-year lifespan. E-scooters provide a compelling alternative that will outrun the car.”