Portsmouth City Council to streamline transport with unified e-scooter and bike operator

Posted: 25 January 2024 | | No comments yet

Portsmouth City Council is exploring a streamlined approach for e-scooters and bike rentals, aiming to improve convenience and sustainability in the city and the broader Solent area.

Portsmouth Solent Transport partners with Voi and Beryl for enhanced micro-mobility experience

Credit: Solent Transport

Portsmouth City Council has unveiled plans to enhance the city’s transportation system by consolidating rental e-scooters and bicycles under a single operator. If approved, the move could revolutionise mobility options, offering residents and visitors more convenience and efficiency.

Currently, Beryl manages rental bicycles and e-bikes, while Voi operates rental e-scooters in Portsmouth. Both schemes have gained popularity since their launch, with over 81,000 people utilising e-scooters since March 2021 and more than 9,400 individuals using Beryl Bikes since their introduction in October 2022.

The proposal to have a single operator for both rental cycles and e-scooters is expected to capitalise on economies of scale, making the scheme more commercially viable and adaptable to varying demand throughout the year. Similar models have proven successful in other regions like Bournemouth, Poole and Oxford.

If given the green light, the initiative will extend across Solent Transport, covering existing schemes in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. In addition, bike-sharing services will be expanded to include areas of Hampshire under the Solent Future Transport Zone. The council plans to invite bids from the four operators on Solent Transport’s bike-share and micro-mobility framework in spring, with the aim of appointing a new single operator by Summer 2024.

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Simultaneously, councillors will discuss extending the rental e-scooter trial until 31 May 2026, aligning with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) new end date for national trials. Recent surveys emphasise the popularity of rental e-scooters for short journeys, showcasing their role in reducing car trips and cutting down carbon emissions. The extension will enable the council to gather crucial data, vital for future decision-making at both local and national levels regarding the future of e-scooters.

Councillor Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “When used safely, rental e-scooters and bikes are a great way to travel around the city in an affordable, green and sustainable way, reducing traffic and improving air quality. I look forward to discussing proposals to extend the trial and appoint a single operator for both modes of transport.”

For those interested in renting e-scooters, pedal bikes, or e-bikes, they can use the Breeze travel app to book their trip. It is essential to note that all e-scooter users must possess a provisional driving license, be 18 years or older and adhere to specific usage guidelines. Privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal on public roads, except on private land with the landowner’s permission.