E-scooter scheme could be taken over by a new operator next year

by BBC LDRS team for Filtonvoice

A new company could take over th e-scooter scheme – familiar in Filton and Horfield – from Voi next year, meaning the scooters for hire on local streets could soon be completely different. E-scooter operators have been asked to bid for a long-term contract to run a scheme across the West of England.

Swedish firm Voi has operated Bristol’s rentable e-scooters since a trial began in October 2020. More than 280,000 people have used e-scooters in the West of England, totalling a staggering 6,000,000 journeys since the trial started.

But now the West of England combined authority is looking for a potentially new operator, or group of operators, to take over the e-scooter scheme on a longer contract. Voi could bid for the new contract and win again, meaning no change, or another company could win the bid.

Dan Norris, metro mayor of the West of England, said: “The trial has had some notable successes with over a quarter of a million local people using them — which is record-breaking nationwide. But there have also been challenges, including safety.

“I back schemes that encourage people to leave the car behind and help us to meet our ambitious net zero targets. I would very much like to encourage providers to now come forward and explain how they would provide a reliable, safe and affordable service for West of England residents.”

Kicking off the tender process, the combined authority has issued a Prior Information Notice to the market, in its search for a company to take on the e-scooter scheme. A new operator could potentially also bid to run electric bikes and electric cargo bikes, as well.

Voi will run the current e-scooters until the new contract is awarded, so there will be no gap in provision. Voi was approached for comment.