E-scooter operator, Voi Technology, to offer NHS staff and Emergency Service workers free rides while the lockdown is in place
Residents who want to try a new and environmentally-friendly way to travel can start hiring Voi rental e-scooters as part of a Department for Transport trial in Southampton.
Residents and visitors in Southampton will be able to rent a Voi e-scooter to commute to work or move around the city for essential journeys. E-scooters offer a convenient, accessible mode of transport, taking pressure off public transport whilst social distancing is still in place and giving people the option of leaving their cars behind for shorter journeys in the city.
Cllr Steve Leggett, Cabinet member for Green City and Place for Southampton City Council, said:
“We are pleased to be part of this national trial working with key stakeholders and the residents of Southampton to understand how we can make the best use of this mode of transport now and in the future. The trial will help to keep the city moving as we start to emerge from the pandemic, while also supporting our Green City Plan to tackle climate change by offering greener and healthier alternatives to the car”.
Initially, there will be 50 Voi scooters available to hire from 6am –10pm near Southampton Central Station North, the SeaCity Museum, at Guildhall Square, by the University of Southampton and the Highfield Campus, to name a few locations. New locations will be added on a regular basis and will be agile to public feedback and demand. To be eligible to ride a Voi e-scooter, users need to be 18 years old and over and have at least a provisional driving licence, which they will have to upload to the Voi app when they first register. The app is available for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Voi e-scooters will cost £1 to unlock and then £0.14 per minute of usage. Voi also offers 24-hour (at £5) and 30-day (at £55) subscriptions, allowing users to take an unlimited number of rides at a fixed rate. The company also offers discounts for students and those on a low income. Whilst the lockdown is in place, Voi is offering free rides for NHS and Emergency Service workers. More information can be found on the Voi website.
While rental e-scooters will be available to hire in Southampton, privately-owned, unregulated e-scooters remain illegal, except on private land.
Rental e-scooters in Southampton are one location in a regional trial across the Solent; part of Solent Transport’s Future Transport Zone, funded by the Department for Transport.
Councillor Ian Ward, Chair of Solent Transport’s Joint Committee, said:
“The Southampton scheme of rental e-scooters, is part of a wider programme of work being delivered with the aspiration of providing better sustainable transport across the Solent area, making it easier for our residents to do business, get access to services and enjoy their leisure time. E-scooters are the first in a number of innovative projects planned as part of the Future Transport Zone, to support economic growth across the region.”
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:
“The trials of rental e-scooters starting in Southampton could offer a socially distanced way of getting from A to B for key workers and those making essential journeys. Learning from trials already taking place, Southampton’s will see strict safety measures introduced - including license verification and responsible parking incentives, while also helping us better understand any impacts on public spaces.”
Richard Corbett, Regional General Manager of UK, Ireland and Benelux for Voi, said:
“We are excited to launch our shared e-scooter trial in Southampton. E-scooters offer residents and visitors a unique opportunity to commute or move around safely in their local area. As a flexible and carbon-neutral mode of transport, e-scooters empower individuals to contribute to the transformation of their cities, creating better places to live, free of pollution and congestion.
"We are also delighted to deploy some of our first Voi branded parking racks in Southampton to ensure riders park their scooters appropriately, avoiding nuisance and street clutter. According to the data we have, parking racks influence good parking behaviour, improving overall parking compliance and creating a better experience for all.”
Introducing e-scooters as safely as possible is an absolute priority for Voi and Southampton City Council, and scooter speeds will be capped at 10mph and at a lower speed in specific locations. Voi also worked closely with the local transport authority to create geofenced areas, including slow riding, no riding and mandatory parking areas. Parks and the Common are geofenced as no-go areas initially and kept under review. Southampton will be one of the first cities in the UK to have Voi parking racks available for users to park their scooters. There will be parking racks to start with, and more will be installed as the trial progresses and we react to user requirements and demand.
Voi is committed to educating riders and other road users and will be doing so through in-app safety campaigns and on-the-ground-staff who will monitor e-scooter activity. Riders will be encouraged to complete Voi’s digital e-scooter traffic school #RideLikeVoila, the world’s first certified digital traffic school, where they can learn how to ride a scooter safely. Voi is also rolling out online safety webinars for users or anyone interested in finding out more about riding and parking a scooter safely. Information on the webinar can be found at www.voiscooters.com/safety/, and users can join by signing up via Eventbrite.
E-scooters are a safe choice for key workers because they operate in the open air. In addition, Voi scooters are disinfected regularly and they are fitted with handlebars made of a material that inhibits the transmission of viruses and bacteria, thus offering antibacterial, bactericidal and antiviral protection. Voi also provides COVID-19 information and advice via its app.
As the trial progresses, Southampton County Council and Voi will continue to work closely with local organisations representing vulnerable groups to ensure their needs are carefully considered during the trial.
The e-scooter trial will be introduced under an Emergency Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). Users will be able to submit feedback to Traffic.OrdersLegal@southampton.gov.uk
For more information please visit our e-scooters web page.