Smart Transport

West Midlands launches e-scooter trial with Voi

Transport for West Midlands has appointed Swedish company Voi to operate its 12 month e-scooter trial from September 10.

The e-scooters will be rolled-out in Birmingham and Coventry first, followed by Sandwell (West Bromwich), Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Warwickshire.

The tender process, which was started last month by TfWM, part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), concluded with the contract being offered to Voi as the sole operator.

Voi launched Europe’s first dockless e-scooter service in 2018 and now operates in 45 cities across 11 countries.

The public will initially be able to access and ride e-scooters within the immediate vicinity of Birmingham and Coventry’s city centre, with an ambition to expand the trial zones as the trial progresses.

For the purpose of the trial the DfT requires a maximum speed of 15.5 mph on roads. In pedestrianised areas a lower speed limit of 5mph will be applicable. E-scooters are allowed on any 30 mph or less road, however the council have advised users to use designated cycle routes wherever possible.

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “The West Midlands is proud to be leading the way on future transport development, and it is great to be able to partner with Voi and reveal our plans for e-scooters across the region.

“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."

The DfT passed legislation earlier this year to accelerate the deployment of e-scooter trials across the UK, to assist with the sustainable reopening of the economy and transport systems as the country emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown.

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.

Voi will provide in person and online rider education, provide 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.”

Voi is adding Shieldex Copper-Tape to the handlebars of its e-scooters, which kill 99.98% of coronavirus on contact, and all e-scooters will be disinfected every 24 hours.

The trial is due to run for 12 months. It will be reviewed by the DfT and TfWM working closely with local authorities and stakeholders, with a view to establishing longer-term options for e-scooters in the region. 

 Transport Minister Rachel Maclean

Virtual Smart Transport Conference 2020 presentations available to view now

After three packed days of content the first Virtual Smart Transport Conference has come to a close, but delegates can now gain free access to rewatch all the presentations during the show.

How to watch the presentations

Videos can be accessed by heading to the Agenda & Live Stream section of the Virtual Smart Transport Conference event website and choosing sessions to watch from across the three days.

The event featured thought leadership presentations from over 45 key stakeholders from the public and private sector, with opening statements from transport minister Rachel Maclean (pictured) and Mayor for Greater Manchester Combined Authority Andy Burnham.

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