Friday, September 18, 2020

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Swedish e-scooter brand Voi has been chosen to run a trial of the transport mode across the West Midlands with the promise of creating 120 new jobs.

Transport for West Midlands launched a tender process in July to find an operator for a scooter-for-hire scheme across the county and in Warwickshire.

It has been announced today that Voi has won the brief and will launch with 200 e-scooters in each of Birmingham and Coventry city centres from next Thursday, with a view to expanding into other trial zones.

They will then be rolled out across Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Warwickshire and Wolverhampton in the coming weeks, with a total of 10,000 being made available.

Riders will need a provisional or full driving licence to hire one and they will cost £1 to unlock and 20p per minute to ride, with reduced rates for NHS workers, students and those on low incomes.

There will be a speed limit of 15.5mph on roads while users will have to stay below 5mph if they wish to ride on pavements and other pedestrianized zones.

E-scooters are allowed on any 30 mph or less road but transport chiefs are advising people to use designated cycle routes wherever possible.

New legislation was passed by the Department of Transport in July to accelerate the deployment of e-scooter trials in England, Scotland and Wales as their use was previously prohibited.

The trial is due to run for 12 months and will be reviewed throughout, with the possibility of establishing longer-term options for e-scooters in the region.

It is part of wider plans to address the nation's transport usage in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.

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West Midlands Mayor 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.

"They 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.

"As well as the improvements to our transport network, e-scooters could also be a much-needed boost for the region's economy, helping to attract people back into our town and city centres."

Voi is headquartered in Stockholm and launched what is claimed to be Europe's first dockless e-scooter service in 2018.

It now operates in 45 cities across 11 European countries.

Director of public policy Lucy Yu added: "In the UK, 60 per cent 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 20 per cent 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."

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