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Councils urged not to seek large financial contributions from e-scooter trials, to avoid threatening their viability 

Councils across the UK have been urged not to seek large financial contributions from shared transport providers, to avoid undermining the viability of e-scooter rental schemes. 

National shared transport charity CoMoUK (Collaborative Mobility UK) has written to local authorities urging them to consider profit-sharing models, rather than taking cuts of overall revenues, when considering extensions of e-scooter trials. 

As the cost of living crisis in the UK continues, running costs for shared e-scooter operators continue to rise, and unlike many other forms of sustainable transport, they do not receive any Government subsidy, CoMoUK said. 

In a letter sent to local councils, the charity’s chief executive Richard Dilks said: “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.”

There are currently more than 30 trial e-scooter rental schemes in operation across the UK, which the Government is using to collect safety data to inform any updated legislation. 

Many of these trials have been extended until May 2024, as the Government is working on plans to introduce a new vehicle category for zero-emission, low-speed vehicles, paving the way for the legalisation of privately-owned e-scooters on public roads. 

CoMoUK said e-scooter trials have been a success because of the sustained and high numbers of riders alongside low incident rates.

It considers that legalising e-scooters will ensure they are subject to high safety standards while also helping to lower emissions from transport, cut congestion and repurpose streets away from cars.

Bike share use is at an all-time high with a total of 2.8 million members and 1.8 million members who have used a scheme in the last year, based on figures from March 2022.  

Dilks added: “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.

“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.” 

Read more: Pure Electric launches two new e-scooters 

CoMoUK is planning to publish its own report into the UK e-scooter trials which will be based on extensive data-sharing by operators and interviews with both local authorities and operators. 

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