Rental e-scooters users can help to revitalise Britain’s high streets and boost transport options in deprived economic areas, according to a new report.
Swedish micromobility firm Voi, which runs government-approved trial rental e-scooter schemes in 17 UK towns and cities, commissioned Volterra Partners to produce an independent report showing the social and economic impact of the machines.
The report is based on analysis of Voi’s data and user surveys, and looked a a number of the UK regions in which the firm operates. There was a particular focus on Bristol, which is Voi’s most popular UK destination, and also in the firm’s top 10 European cities.
Since the Bristol trial scheme began in October 2020, nearly seven million rides have been taken, covering more than 11 million miles. It currently has around 55,000 active monthly users.
Across a four-month period Volterra found that 31 per cent of e-scooter rides – totalling 430,000 – ended near one of the city’s 72 high streets. But comparison, only 31,000 trips ended near large retail parks – although Volterra does note that Voi has fewer parking zones near those sites.
Based on a Voi survey, it is estimated that around 14 per cent of trips ended on a high street were specifically for shopping, with rides expected to spend around £13 million in Bristol high streets in 2022. Just considering food and beverage expenditure, the report estimates that Voi e-scooters could support 260 jobs in Bristol this year.
When expanded to all of Voi's UK rental schemes, it is estimated that riders could spend £37 million at retail locations on high streets across the country, showcasing the positive benefit shared e-scooters are having on the local economy.
The report also suggests that a substantial number of rides are being uses for commuting. Around 30 per cent of all rides in th eUK are used for commuting, and 60 per cent of all morning rides in Bristol end in the most employment-dense areas of the city.
Notably nearly a quarter of all trips (24 per cent) of Voi rides in the UK start and end in one of the 20 per cent most deprived areas in the UK, suggesting the machines are playing a role in improving transport options for people in those areas.
The report also looked at how Voi scooters have affected road use. It claims that since launch Voi rental e-scooter have replaced more than four million independent car trips. If rental e-scooters are permanently legalised, the report estimates that Voi machines could be worth £64 million of decongestion benefits by helping take cars off the road. It also highlights the environmental benefits: the average petrol-engined car emits 181g of CO2 per kilometre, compared to 23g for an e-scooter.
Matthew Pencharz, Voi's UK head of policy, said that "Voi e-scooters have provided an essential service to people across Bristol, helping them to travel to and from work, see their friends and family, and visit local amenities. This research demonstrates for the first time the positive economic impact Voi’s shared e-scooters are having in Bristol and other cities around the UK."
Richard Dilks, the boss of shared transport body CoMoUK, added: "We are pleased to see this insight into the economic and growth impacts of shared e-scooter operations. The schemes’ popularity and ability to provide low-carbon transport options have been well demonstrated – and will be examined in a forthcoming CoMoUK report – so it is exciting to see research such as this investigating other aspect of the schemes.
“We regard e-scooter legalisation as a high priority for Government, the UK being the only developed country without e-scooter legalisation or committed plans for it.”