Like them or loath them – e-scooters have become a familiar sight on streets across the West of England with over six million journeys made since 2020.
Now it can be revealed that the region’s e-scooters are changing provider and colour – from coral to green – and will be branded WESTscoot from the autumn.
In light of the success of e-scooters in the region, the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority has negotiated a brand-new contract with a different provider – TIER – that will take over the running of the scooters.
Importantly, the contract will bring an estimated £9.7 million to the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority over four years. The money raised will be ring-fenced to be reinvested in future West of England transport improvements. Other benefits for residents include clauses in the contract to address parking concerns, and 100 brand-new e-scooter parking racks to help keep the fleet tidy.
Alongside 4,000 WESTscoot e-scooters, there will, for the first time, be:
• WESTbike: 1,500 new pedal-only e-bikes
• WESTcargo: 20 e-cargo bikes (large bikes specially designed to carry goods which will particularly appeal to local businesses)
Dan Norris, Metro Mayor of the West of England, said:
“WESTscoot must build on the successes of e-scooters in our West of England region which has been one of the most successful trials anywhere in Europe. But it must also address the legitimate concerns residents often voice over poor and irresponsible e-scooter parking.
“Given our very ambitious West of England net-zero 2030 target, it is vital that these bright green electric WESTscoot, WESTbike and WESTcargo e-vehicles become a common and welcome sight across our region, for they are an important means to allow residents to reduce car use or give it up completely if they should so choose.
“TIER are extremely keen to do a great job for our brilliant region and I’m pleased about their green credentials as the first micro-mobility company to be fully climate-neutral.
Fred Jones TIER Vice President in Northern Europe, commented:
“I believe with WESTscoot, the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority is setting out an important example of how shared electric personal vehicles and existing public transport options can work together to reduce carbon emissions and congestion in our urban centres.
“The expansion of the service to include e-bikes and e-cargo bikes makes it easier for the people of West of England to choose to leave their car at home and pick the perfect vehicle for their journey, whether that is commuting, going to see friends or even doing the weekly shop. We are proud to have been selected as the operator for this UK-leading flagship service and look forward to the full launch this autumn.”
Swedish firm Voi, the existing West of England operator, will continue to run the current e-scooter until the autumn when the new TIER service takes over.
While welcoming the much-improved contract and the benefits it will bring to taxpayers, Metro Mayor Dan Norris has expressed his concerns that TIER has significant funding from venture firm RTP Global which was founded by entrepreneur Leonid Boguslavsky. Mr Boguslavsky apperas to be a former Supervisory board member of a Russian majority state-owned banking and financial services company headquartered in Moscow, was listed in the 2018 US Treasury so-called ‘Putin list’ and indeed has been photographed with Mr Putin.
Mr Norris said: “There has been a rigorous procurement process under current laws. I, of course, appreciate that in a global world, international companies have investment from far and wide. But I find it troubling officials tell me we have to shrug this off and legally cannot delve into such ethical challenges. That’s why I wrote to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to say that given the current illegal and bloody Russian war in Ukraine, could the Government again look into contracts regulation.”