E-scooter trial 2.0 | New operators announced
New e-scooter trial operators announced
Lime, Wave and newcomer Flamingo are the three e-scooter operators that will participate in the phase two e-scooter trial in Auckland.
Auckland Council and Auckland Transport (AT) have completed an application process for the second trial and selected the successful operators from a total of five applicants. The trial runs until 31 October 2019.
Auckland Council Licensing and Regulatory Compliance General Manager Craig Hobbs is leading the trial programme and says he is impressed with the way the programme has progressed since e-scooters were first suggested for Auckland’s streets.
“This time last year, we had barely heard of e-scooter ride-share schemes, let alone anticipated having fleets of e-scooters on our streets and footpaths.
“Since mid-October 2018, we have learned a huge amount about how these businesses work, public uptake and perception of e-scooters and how our own licensing framework supports micro-mobility ride-share initiatives like this.
“That work continues in this second phase trial where we will see how three operators share the market over six months,” says Mr Hobbs.
Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison says AT and the council have prioritised this trial for two important reasons.
“Micro-mobility modes of transport are becoming increasingly popular and are not something we can ignore. Ride-share scooters encourage people to connect with public transport and offer an alternative to cars for short trips.
“We are also seeing more and more privately-owned e-scooters across the city – which confirms that Aucklanders are embracing scooters as a transport mode and that we need to factor this in to the transport equation in our region.
“Secondly, and equally as important, is safety. While we have little influence right now on the rules for where e-scooters can be ridden, how fast they can go and wearing of helmets, we have done as much as we can to promote public safety.
“We will continue to work with operators to incentivise safe rider behaviour; we will monitor compliance with the licence conditions, especially around maintenance, responsible parking and incident management; and we will contribute what we learn, to safety improvements at a national level.
“We are also continuing our advocacy to central government for a national regulatory framework for e-scooters,” says Mr Ellison.
Operators offer limited speed zones
The new code of practice encourages operators to introduce slow-speed zones via geofencing. This automatically reduces the scooters’ speed in nominated areas, improving the safety of users and pedestrians.
Mr Ellison says the council and AT cannot impose speed limits through this licence process so operator-initiated geofencing is important for public safety.
“We were heartened to see that each operator proposed geo-fencing in their applications.
“Slow-speed zones in high use areas makes it safer for e-scooter users and pedestrians to share footpaths and for riders to use road and cycle ways.
“Lowered speeds are also a reminder to scooter users that they are in an area where they must take extra care, always on the lookout for others,” he says.
The council has taken on board feedback from disability groups, including the vision impaired, when recommending slow-speed zones – for example, the precinct around the Blind Foundation in Parnell.
The following areas will be geo-fenced. Riders will notice scooters slow to 15 kmph when entering or starting their journey in a slow-speed zone.
• Ponsonby Road
• Jervois Road (College Hill to Curran Street)
• Karangahape Road
• CBD including Queen Street and waterfront area
• Auckland City Hospital precinct
• Parnell (including the Blind Foundation precinct)
• Mission Bay
• St Heliers
E-scooter allocation and fees
When considering the licence applications, the council and AT have allocated limited numbers to each operator. There will be a maximum of 1875 scooters licenced to operate, across three tiers, during this trial. This is 175 more scooters than in the original trial, with the extra scooters assigned to the tier three (outer suburbs) area.
“Operators were asked to give an indication of how many scooters they wished to deploy and in which tiers,” says Mr Hobbs.
“We have allocated based on operator request – you’ll see that Wave has not requested a tier three allocation – and on balance across the tiers.
“We are particularly keen to see a focus on trips in outer suburbs, the tier three area, which offers riders the chance to connect with public transport for that first or last leg of their commuting journey.
“It will also give people living in the outer suburbs more transport choice. This trial is not just about the city centre and fringe, but the wider region too,” he says.
Licence fees are calculated from a set fee structure, with premium fees applied to inner city (tier one) licences. See the tier map here.
“The way that operators are being charged has changed,” says Mr Hobbs. “We have looked at the options under our bylaw-related fee structure and have opted for fees that better reflect the amount of space the scooter fleets are occupying on the footpath.
“While not a direct comparison, given the trial length and number of operators, this new approach brings in around four times more in fees. This revenue goes back into the licensing and compliance monitoring programme,” he says.
Operators will now be treated as ‘oversize vendors’ and fees are calculated based on two scooters occupying one square metre of footpath. The following fee table applies to a six month period.
|Tier 1 $35.50*||$17,750.00||$7,100.00||$7,100.00|
|Tier 2 $21.50*||$5,375.00||$4,300.00||$3,225.00|
|Tier 3 $5.00*||$1,000.00||-||$875.00|
*per scooter, per six months
New code of practice for e-scooter operations
Auckland Council and AT have updated the e-scooter share code of practice following Auckland’s first e-scooter trial. Read the new code here. The new code of practice is informed by what the council and AT have learned during the first trial. Updates include:
• more stringent requirements on safety and risk management, incident reporting and investigation, and requirements to report on safety performance on a monthly basis.
• a requirement for detailed plans for regular maintenance and weekly maintenance checks.
• slow speed zones, via geo-fencing, are encouraged but cannot be imposed by the council or AT.
• changes made to the removal of non-compliantly parked scooters, which must be removed by the operator within three hours of being reported (operators previously had 12 hours to remove reported abandoned scooters).
Rules for using e-scooters are set by NZTA under national road user rules. At present e-scooters can be ridden on the footpath or on the road and on separated cycleways (but not on painted, unprotected cycle lanes that are part of the road). There are no regulations in place for requiring the wearing of helmets while riding e-scooters although helmet wearing is recommended by NZTA.
After the trial
The second phase trial continues until 31 October, after which the council and AT will evaluate the trial and look at options for the future.
“As well as evaluating operations over the six month period, we will be conducting some research, meeting with interest groups, engaging with our counterparts at other councils and looking at what we can contribute to work on micro-mobility at a central government level.
“If the outcome of this trial recommends e-scooter ride-share operations should continue to be licenced, we may also need to look at whether changes to our bylaw are required,” says Mr Hobbs.
The first Flamingo e-scooters will be deployed in the week beginning 9 June 2019 with all of the operators allocation being deployed by the end of July.
Lime has been operating in Auckland since 15 October 2018 and was the first e-scooter ride share operator to launch in the region. Lime’s licence was extended in January 2019 to allow the continuation of the original trial and potentially allow other operators to launch their service. Lime’s licence was temporarily suspended in late February and the suspension lifted on 1 March once the council and AT were satisfied the company had resolved safety issues.
Wave was granted a licence in late 2018 and launched its first e-scooters on 13 March 2019. Its original licence allowed deployment of up to 500 e-scooters. Wave was the first operator to introduce geo-fenced slow-speed zones.
The council and AT also received applications from Bird and Beam. Both were unsuccessful in securing licences for this trial but have been provided feedback on their applications and may apply again in the future.
To provide feedback on the e-scooter trial, email us at EscooterProgramme@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.