Residents who want to try a new and environmentally-friendly way to travel can now start hiring Voi rental e-scooters as part of a DfT trial in Southampton.
“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,” said councillor Steve Leggett, cabinet member for Green City and Place for Southampton City Council. “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.
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 DfT.
“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,” said councillor Ian Ward, Chair of Solent Transport’s Joint Committee.
“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 also 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.
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.