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The trial of rental Voi e-scooters in the Solent region, part of the Solent Future Transport Zone (FTZ), has been extended by both Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils until March 2022.

The decision by both councils reflects careful consideration of the impact of the scheme across the region and concludes that rental e-scooters have been used responsibly and safely by the vast majority of riders. The extension of the trials also allows local transport authorities, Solent Transport and the Department for Transport, who are funding the Solent FTZ, additional time to collect valuable data on rental e-scooter use as well as understand the impact of rental e-scooter hire as a public transport option.

Voi operates rental e-scooters in both cities and across the region has recorded almost 450,000 rides, covering over 1.4 million km. Figures provided by Voi suggest that over four in ten riders have switched modes to use rental e-scooters when they would have previously used a car for the same journey within the FTZ, which has helped replace nearly 200,000 unnecessary short car journeys and saved an estimated 120 tonnes of C02 so far over the course of the trial.

Cath Longhurst, Portsmouth, a regular user who replaced her car with a Voi, said:
“During lockdown, I decided to do things differently and sold my car because it was just sitting there. With the introduction of Voi in Portsmouth, I realised that I could replace my car by renting an e-scooter for many short journeys, meaning I can still do all the things I need to do, including regularly commuting back and forth into the city for meetings, running errands, and loads of other things.

“Renting an e-scooter is a great way to get around town as they are safe, green and easy to use. They are a great addition to Portsmouth and I encourage everyone to give Voi a try.”

The safety of riders and other road users continues to be a focus for operators and local transport authorities. Voi has conducted nine monthly safety seminars and regular safety events in Portsmouth and Southampton, where they’ve given away nearly 400 free helmets.

Voi takes anti-social behaviour seriously, placing the priorities of road users and pedestrians at the heart of its efforts to create a sustainable and safe service for everyone. Since the start of the trial, it has worked closely with Southampton and Portsmouth councils, as well as Hampshire police, to deliver a service in which over 99.9% of rides end without incident.

Innovation has been at the core of the micromobility revolution, which involves people opting for smaller vehicles for individual use in the Solent region. During the trials Voi has introduced new features such as the ‘End of Ride photo’ feature and parking racks to improve parking compliance as well as advancements in on-scooter safety. Riding a Voi has become part of everyday life to travel about town, commute to and from work or run errands.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, Chair of Solent Transport’s Joint Committee and Portsmouth City Council Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport said, “It’s reassuring to know that so many people are embracing rental e-scooters as a more sustainable alternative to short car journeys, which can so often be avoided.

“Results from Portsmouth City Council’s recent survey have revealed that 56 percent of rental e-scooter rides would otherwise have been by made car or taxi for shorter journeys, which can only lead to cleaner air in the city. Not only that, rental e-scooters are giving people options beyond using a private car, public transport, or walking, with the overwhelming majority of people using them safely and responsibly, so they’re a welcome addition to our city.

“The trial extension will give us more time to expand and refine rack locations, giving people better access to shopping and leisure, and bus, train, and ferry links. It will also help us to continue to develop cleaner air and benefit the health of everyone who lives, visits, works, and studies here.”

Councillor Jeremy Moulton, Southampton City Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Growth, says:
“Extending the e-scooter trial will give us a greater understanding of how e-scooters can form part of the transport mix in Southampton as we come away from COVID restrictions. It will give us the opportunity to refine the existing service and ensure safety for all, along with understanding how e-scooter can integrate with other future mobility trials coming to Southampton in the future.

“In Southampton there will then be a formal evaluation in March 2022 to determine whether there is to be any further extension of the scheme beyond that date. The council administration is engaging with all city councillors to seek their views on what measures we would want to see put in place beyond March to ensure the scheme works as well as possible, and once agreed with councillors and with VOI these will measures will be the criteria against which any further extension decision will be judged.”

Jack Samler, Voi General Manager for UK and Ireland, said:
“We’re delighted to continue our successful relationship with Solent Transport, Portsmouth, and Southampton City Councils, and today’s announcement is also welcome news for thousands of people who’ve made this environmentally-friendly mode of transport part of their everyday lives.

“The discussions at COP26 in Glasgow show us why we need to change the way we live, work and travel in order to tackle the climate emergency. More than ever, micromobility is an important part of helping replace urban car journeys, connect with public transport and improve local air quality by reducing C02 emissions.

“We are determined to continue working with our local partners to help transform our urban spaces, encouraging the local community to make safer and sustainable journeys, reducing pollution and congestion, and create better and healthier cities for living.”