When companies first started offering unattended rental scooters, it was kind of chaotic. After watching Uber worm its way into the market in cities by just not asking permission, scooter companies did much the same. Some played carefully to avoid problems that would bring a regulatory crackdown, while others just jumped in and tried to learn as they went. In some cases, this led to nasty feuds with city officials, who weren’t free to crack down because the scooter companies had already established a relationship with voters.
In some cases, scooters were simply banned, which probably was a case of bad knee-jerk public policy. In other cases, some people took it upon themselves to deal with scooter issues. Theft, destruction of property, and even throwing the scooters into the ocean all happened.
But, a recent news release from Voi shows us that there are some alternative approaches both cities and scooter operators can consider. In this case, the city of Winterthur decided to run a trial to see who did the best job, and then narrowed down operations to include only the most responsible and high-quality operators.
After an extensive selection process spanning several weeks, two future providers have been chosen to operate in the city. Voi, with an impressive rating of 4.1 out of 5, emerged as the top contender and is thrilled to have secured permission to continue operating. Winterthur is following in the footsteps of other prominent European cities, such as Oslo, Vienna, and London, by implementing a clearer regulatory framework through the issuance of concessions.
“As a Swedish company, we represent a European, cooperative approach. Mobility offers must be tailored to each other and to the respective local needs. In this respect, we are very pleased that we were able to convince the jury of our partnership qualities,” says Katharina Schlittler, Managing Director of Voi Switzerland.
So far results have been good for everyone involved.A recent study by Voi reveals that a significant 72 percent of Swiss users are already integrating their e-scooter journeys with public transportation, so they’re actually displacing a lot more vehicle miles than would appear on the surface. And, by serving as the first and last mile gap-filler, the scooters are enabling rather than competing with transit.
Starting in January, the fleet size will be reduced from 750 to 600 e-scooters. Voi says this reorganization is a sensible move as it allows both operators to better cater to the specific local demands. Additionally, in highly frequented areas like the train station, any over- or under-supply can be promptly identified and rectified, because there are fewer companies operating with more of the data.
“Fewer providers usually means more order,” says Schlittler.
“Our more than four years of experience in Winterthur has enabled us to present a sophisticated, tailor-made mobility concept. One focus was on better connections to public transport,” says Mark Gutersohn, Operations Manager at Voi, responsible for operations in Winterthur.
As this approach rolls out to more European and American cities, we’ll get a better idea of how well it works out.
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