All change for e-scooter fleet

E-SCOOTERS on the Downend area’s streets will have a new look in the autumn.

The West of England Combined Authority is replacing current operator Voi, which has operated the hire scheme since it launched, with a new contractor, German company Tier.

It means the distinctive pink fleet of e-scooters which has been on the streets – and parked on pavements – since 2020 will be replaced by 4,000 new green ‘WESTscoot’ e-scooters, 1,500 e-bikes and 20 electric cargo bikes that can be hired by businesses.

Voi says it was “disappointing” to be leaving the region but changes to the new contract for the region would have left it running “at a loss”.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris, who announced the changes at the end of June, said the new operator would be fined if parking problems continue.

Mr Norris said the contract with Tier would bring in an estimated £9.7 million for public transport spending in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset.

He said clauses in the contract would address parking concerns, and that 100 new e-scooter parking racks would be provided.

Mr Norris said: “WESTscoot must build on the successes of e-scooters in our West of England region, which has been one of the most successful trials anywhere in Europe.

“But it must also address the legitimate concerns residents often voice over poor and irresponsible e-scooter parking.

“Given our very ambitious West of England net-zero 2030 target, it is vital that these bright green electric WESTscoot, WESTbike and WESTcargo e-vehicles become a common and welcome sight across our region, for they are an important means to allow residents to reduce car use or give it up completely if they should so choose.”

He said contract clauses included “parking performance monitored on a monthly basis, with penalties on the operator if high standards aren’t met”.

They include stricter requirements to keep vehicles parked tidily within designated bays, and agreed numbers.

An exact date for the changeover has not been announced.

Tier’s Northern Europe vice-president Fred Jones said: “The expansion of the service to include e-bikes and e-cargo bikes makes it easier for the people of the West of England to choose to leave their car at home and pick the perfect vehicle for their journey, whether that is commuting, going to see friends or even doing the weekly shop.

“We are proud to have been selected as the operator for this UK-leading flagship service and look forward to the full launch this autumn.”

Voi UK, Ireland and France general manager Jack Samler said: “We are very proud of what we’ve achieved in Bristol and Bath and the legacy we’ve built. It is disappointing to be leaving these cities.

“There are several differences in the new contract compared to our existing contract, many of which will impact on our overall costs.

“At Voi, we believe schemes must be financially sustainable for operators to allow for continued investment in rider experience, safety and integration with other road users and pedestrians.

“This is critical for the industry long-term.

“We are not prepared to run any shared e-scooter trial at a loss.”

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service