There are 50 shared e-scooter fleets in the UK, from Newcastle to the Isle of Wight, with 12 companies currently offering the service.
The payment model for a journey generally involves pay-per-ride, or a subscription for unlimited rides in a day, week, month or longer. We’ve focused on the pay-per-ride charges as most users will most likely pay this way, while acknowledging that some regular commuters may switch to a subscription basis should they find that the transport mode is reliable enough for regular commuting.
Most operators calculate the pay-per-ride cost based on two charges – an “unlock” flat fee per journey, and then a per-minute ride fee. Some may occasionally have discounts, for example, Lime’s “helmet selfie” 25 per cent discount or discounted rides for morning commuters.
We’ve taken a model 15-minute-long journey and compared how much it would cost to do such a journey. At 10mph (most fleets are capped at 12 to 15mph, but you do have to allow for traffic lights and other hazards) you can get 2.5 miles in 15 minutes – a journey of a decent length that many people would prefer not to walk, but also a bit short to drive.
Zag last rounded up the pay-per-ride charges way back in November 2020. There have been surprisingly few changes since then. Voi’s 20p discount for parking in its Midlands towns and cities is welcome. Zwings in Cheltenham and Gloucester, and TIER in York, have seen the steepest increases, up from 15p to 20p a minute, and 14p to 18p a minute, respectively. Link in Nottingham, which is Superpedestrian’s shared micromobility division, is the cheapest programme in the UK at £1.80 for a 15-minute journey.
Of note, several operators are also running shared electric bikes in their cities. In most cases, the e-bikes are cheaper – TIER’s York bikes, Lime’s in London and Voi’s in Cambridge are all less expensive per minute than their e-scooter counterparts.
There is also surprisingly little price differentiation in the two places where multiple rival fleets are in operation. London’s e-scooters, across three operators, all have a £1 unlock charge and cost 15-16p a minute. Milton Keynes does have more variation. Ginger in Milton Keynes charges there in 10 minute blocks but is much cheaper overall than either Spin or Lime, except for very short journeys.
The structure of the UK e-scooter trials has meant there has not been a “race to the bottom” on prices, which has been damaging for some cities in Europe where multiple operators have clogged streets but then pulled out of the resulting very unprofitable operations, but may also mean that some potential userbases in the UK are priced out of the market before they have tried it.