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West Mids e-scooter trial plans


12 June 2020

Transport for the West Midlands has set out e-scooter rental scheme trials are likely to operate in the conurbation. 

The Government hopes to have trials launched across the UK later this month. It says e-scooters will provide the public with a new mode of transport at a time when the public is being advised not to use public transport because of Covid-19.  

Mike Waters, Transport for the West Midlands’ director of policy, strategy and innovation, told the combined authority’s board last week that the intention was for a “regionally coordinated programme of e-scooter trials” that would be a “close partnership between local highway authorities and Transport for the West Midlands”.

“Local highway authorities would lead the zone identification [for trials], road safety and traffic management issues, with TfWM supporting through coordination, resourcing and facilitating,” he said.

Birmingham City Council has volunteered to act as lead authority to provide a coordinating perspective for all the involved highway authorities, supported by an officer project group. TfWM will provide a single point of contact to other national trial zones and the DfT. 

The West Midlands trials could explore matters such as: 

  • targeting several operators to maximise learning about the user response to different service models and charging regimes
  • integration / interaction with pre-existing initiatives such as bike hire and Swift [TfWM’s smart ticketing]
  • assessing mode share impacts
  • exploring vehicle performance and data sharing standards 
  • testing e-scooters in different environments such as campuses, transport interchanges, park-and-ride, local centres, city centre locations, urban corridors and more rural settings
  • investigating safety, interaction with other vulnerable road users, social inclusion and accessibility impacts, cultural and physical barriers, enforcement and vehicle performance issues.

Discussing the interplay between the e-scooter trials and the conurbation’s bike hire scheme on which procurement began last autumn, Waters said: “The e-scooter trials will be required to be limited in physical scope and duration, and as such will not have an immediate direct material commercial implication for the bike hire contract.” 

Any wider roll-out post-trial of e-scooters would have to ensure they were “compatible with and don’t undermine the bike hire arrangements”, he said. Conversely, it would be important to ensure the bike hire contract “doesn’t fetter the ability to exploit the learning from the [e-scooter] trials”. 

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