Charity urges councils to prioritise profit-sharing models for e-scooter trials

The cost-of-living crisis and inflation has pushed up running costs and made raising capital ‘significantly harder’ Collaborative Mobility UK (CoMoUK) has said.

CoMoUK is now urging local authorities to avoid seeking large financial contributions from operators or risk threatening the viability of their schemes.

The national shared transport charity has written to councils across the UK to encourage them to build profit-sharing models instead to ensure they don’t take a cut in overall revenue.

black and red skateboard on gray concrete road

In the letter, Richard Dilks, chief executive of CoMoUK, wrote: ‘We urge authorities to exercise caution in seeking financial contributions from operators, both as a matter of good public procurement practice and to avoid threatening the viability of schemes and operators.

‘Revenue-sharing arrangements are an example of approaches which are likely to be overly onerous financially. Instead, we would favour examining profit-sharing options, in the context of the tough financial and economic conditions described above.

‘Additional financial contributions are also sometimes being sought from operators. These are highly unlikely to be sustainable. They also raise troubling questions of procurement practice. Any criteria against which tender bids are judged should be objective and clearly communicated.’

This comes as the UK government is considering creating a new light vehicle class to legalise e-scooters on public roads, with trials set to help shape future legislation and regulations.

Several e-scooter trial schemes have been extended until May 2024 and bike share schemes are due to go through procurement.

Due to this, CoMoUK is stressing the importance of making high quality, fair and sustainable procurement processes.

Mr Dilks has warned that unlike other forms of sustainable transport, e-scooter trials have not received any public subsidy, which is particularly difficult under the current economic conditions.

He also said the rollout of e-scooters and micromobility as a sustainable alternative travel method could be stalled without reasonable procurement processes.

CoMoUK believes legalising e-scooters would ensure they meet high safety standards and would help to cut emissions, ease congestion and repurpose streets away from cars.

The success of e-scooter trials due to high numbers of riders and low incident rates also show they could be swiftly deployed.

Mr Dilks continues: ‘We share with authorities their ambition to see any re-procurements done on a fair basis that will be sustainable through to May 2024 and beyond as part of growth and stability in what is still a nascent sector in the UK.

‘This should be done by focussing on the socio-economic benefits that this subsidy-free mode brings in terms of social value, decarbonisation, sustainability, productivity and growth.’

The charity is planning to release its own report on UK e-scooter trials soon, based on data and interviews with operators and local authorities.

Photo by Markus Spiske


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