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WECA procures operators for e-scooters


07 August 2020

The West of England Combined Authority is procuring rental e-scooter trials for three areas, as well as a WECA-wide long-term leasing scheme. 

WECA’s tender features two lots. Lot one is for ‘free floating’ rental in: Bristol city centre, Bath city centre, and Bristol’s Northern fringe (including Cribbs Causeway, Filton, Patchway, Parkway, Southmead, the University of the West of England, and Stoke Gifford). 

The second lot is for a leasing scheme in which anyone in the WECA geography (Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire) who meets the requirements set out by the DfT guidance will be able to take a long-term lease of an e-scooter. 

WECA plans to launch its schemes in September. 

The first e-scooter rental trial launched last month in the Tees Valley Combined Authority area. The rental scheme is being operated by Ginger (LTT 10 Jul). 

Electric mobility retailer Pure Electric says local authorities in the following areas are among those also planning to host trials: London; Southampton and Portsmouth; Leeds; the West Midlands Combined Authority; Essex; Cambridge; Nottingham and Derby; and Milton Keynes.

The DfT must approve each trial and approve the e-scooter models used in the trials. “Broadly, the DfT has ‘cut and pasted’ the functionality requirements currently used for scooter approval in Germany,” says Pure Electric.

It says the Government has struggled to develop acceptable arrangements for capturing trial data. The DfT wants to capture demographic data such as gender, ethnicity, disability, as well as journey data such as time, duration, speed and location, and accidents.

“The data capture aspect of the scooter trials has proved challenging,” says Pure Electric. “GDPR issues around protected characteristics have led to the DfT agreeing to take responsibility for this aspect of the data, rather than asking the scooter suppliers to do the job; they also need to get very high response rates on the demographic data to get an accurate picture of users in the UK.

“It is expected many of the trials will kick-off before the data managements processes are all in place. This is because the DfT is extremely keen for the trials to be up and running before we get to the end of summer. They think it’ll be much harder to get people to try out scooters for the first time if the weather is poor.”

The DfT is encouraging councils to launch trials before the end of August.

E-scooter rental firm Link, which operates in several US cities, has received DfT approval to operate in Britain. The company says its e-scooters are more durable than competitors’, lasting more than 2,500 rides compared to an industry average of just 500. 

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