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DfT won’t rule out UK e-scooter trial extension

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The Department for Transport (DfT) is expected to announce an extension to the UK e-scooter trials before the end of March.

The industry is widely expecting at least a six month extension due to the fact many trials have still not started, including what is expected to be the biggest – London.

Transport for London (TfL) has already said its own trial won’t finish until at least spring 2022.

Zag asked the DfT to confirm the extension to give better clarity to local authorities and operators, but it would not comment only saying: “More information will be available in due course.”

The DfT has previously said it wanted all trials to begin operating by March 31, 2021 but acknowledged schemes in London, Sunderland, North Devon, Rochdale and Great Yarmouth are yet to start.

Extension needs local and national government agreement

When the e-scooter trials were first launched, the DfT stated there would be an option for trials to continue beyond the 12-month period, “but any extension would be subject to local/national government agreement”.

While the trials are likely be extended, there is still no clarity on whether there will be the chance for local authorities to re-tender for the extension period.

It’s also possible any extension could allow for more transport authorities to add e-scooter trials in more locations.

Richard Corbett, Voi’s regional general manager UK, Ireland and Benelux told Zag in a recent interview: “The deadline for all e-scooter trial approvals is March 31, but that’s not to say it won’t be extended again and there’s potential for that to happen.

“The current trials are scheduled to end by October this year and it would be an educated guess to say we might see a six month extension, particularly if the London trial hasn’t started yet. “

Corbett said there has been a “huge push” from some operators not to extend the deadline.

He added: “Most operators have won one or two markets and so they would like to re-tender for a chance to win more.”

Lessons for future rollout

A spokesperson for the DfT said the department is currently undertaking a national evaluation of the e-scooter trials with contractors– and across the rest of 2021 – to inform any future policy decisions.

They said: “The primary aim of the evaluation is to build robust evidence about the safety, benefits, public perceptions and wider impacts of e-scooters in order to inform legal changes that may be necessary after the trial period ends.

“The secondary aim is to understand how the local transport systems are working, what factors support or hinder this, and learn lessons for any future rollout.”

The DfT is gathering data on the trials on these key areas:

  • Safety outcomes for e-scooter users and what influences this
  • Interaction with, and effect on, other road users
  • Public perceptions of e-scooters, including people with disabilities and related groups
  • Nature of modal shift and new journeys that have been enabled. *details of trips made: how far, routes, speed
  • Characteristics of users, and how uptake and outcomes differ for different groups
  • Local authority perception of effects on their transport system
  • Lessons for future rollout
  • What a future regulatory system for the future should include, such as speed, vehicle standards or licensing
  • Any other unexpected outcomes
  • Overall costs and benefits to society

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