People could benefit from streamlined transport options in Portsmouth if plans to offer a single operator for rental e-scooters and cycles in the city, and the wider Solent area, are approved.

Portsmouth City Council will discuss proposals to offer more integrated transport options by considering moving towards a single operator for both rental cycles and e-scooters at an upcoming transport decision meeting.

Beryl currently manages rental bicycles and e-bikes in Portsmouth, while Voi operates rental e-scooters, and both schemes have proven popular in the city. Since the launch of the rental e-scooter scheme in March 2021, over 81,000 people have used them in Portsmouth. Beryl Bikes by Breeze launched more recently in October 2022, only expanding citywide last summer, but they have already been used by more than 9,400 people and are attracting more new users every month.

It is thought that consolidating both rental bike and e-scooter services under one operator will allow the operator to use economies of scale. This could enable the scheme to be more commercially viable across the city, as well as more flexible in meeting demand during different seasons. This model is already used in areas like Bournemouth, Poole, and Oxford.

If the proposals get the green light, the council will lead procurement for Solent Transport across existing schemes in Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight and see bike sharing extended to cover areas of Hampshire under the Solent Future Transport Zone. The plan would involve inviting the four operators on Solent Transport’s bike share and micro mobility framework to bid in the spring, with the intention of appointing a new single operator by summer 2024.

At the same meeting, councillors will discuss extending the rental e-scooter trial until 31 May 2026, to align with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) new end date for national trials. Rental e-scooters have become popular for short journeys in Portsmouth and recent surveys show their importance in reducing car trips and cutting down carbon emissions, indicating that around half of Voi rental e-scooter trips would otherwise have been made by car. Extending the trial will enable the council to continue to meet the objectives of its Transport Strategy, and gather essential data, crucial for decision-making at local and national levels concerning the future of e-scooters.

Councillor Vernon-Jackson, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I know that rental e-scooters and rental bikes are both popular in Portsmouth. When used safely, they’re a great way to travel around the city in an affordable, green, and sustainable way, that helps to reduce traffic and improve air quality in the city. I look forward to discussing proposals to extend the trial and to appoint a single operator for both modes of transport.”

Anyone wishing to rent an e-scooter, pedal bike, or electric bike can do this easily through the Breeze travel app. To rent an e-scooter in Portsmouth all users must have a provisional driving license and be 18 years old or above, and they can only be used on the road and or shared use paths. Privately-owned e-scooters remain illegal, except on private land and with the landowner’s permission.