Liverpool e-scooter deal extended

E-scooters are to remain a fixture in Liverpool city centre for at least another six months.

Liverpool Council has signed a deal to extend its deal with Swedish firm Voi until at least next year as a wider trial across the country continues.

The electric hire scooters have become a regular sight throughout the city centre and further afield for the past three years as part of a trial scheme commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Liverpool was one of 32 areas nationwide chosen for the pilot programme. Signing off on the extension yesterday, senior leaders acknowledged that while they are not “loved universally” when used correctly they could be a “force for good”.

The colourful scooters adopted areas from the city council following the closure of its CityBike scheme. A local authority cabinet report in 2022 said the size of the CityBike scheme reduced year on year, due to theft and vandalism, coupled with a lack of available funding to invest in new bikes.

As a result, the scheme became what the council described as “unsustainable” due to the annual losses of around £300k each year. With the city’s existing contract due to expire in June and the DfT extending the project by a further two years, the local authority has now signed a six-month interim deal with a view to a permanent provision in the city.

A report discussed by council members on Wednesday said the trials are necessary to allow e-scooters to be ridden on the public highway, otherwise e-scooters can only be ridden on private land with the permission of the landowner – they cannot be used in public places, including roads, pavements, parks, or cycle lanes.

The original deadline for the end of the trials was November 2021, before being extended until March 2022 to take into account the slower start as a result of the pandemic.

They were further extended to the end of May 2024. Last November, the DfT announced a further extension of the trial up to May 2026.

Endorsing a plan to continue the vehicles’ role in the city, Cllr Dan Barrington, cabinet member for transport and connectivity, said he was disappointed the government had not adopted clearer legislation on the scooters. He added how the council was aware the 2,000 vehicles were not “loved universally” but would help Liverpool on its journey to net zero and increased active travel.

Cllr Harry Doyle said he understood the continuing frustration over their use by some but said they were a “force for good when used properly”.

Cllr Liam Robinson, leader of Liverpool Council, said he thought the vehicles may have been a bit “boujee” at first but they had proved to be a success, placing Liverpool among the top five cities for use across Europe.

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