London’s much-anticipated e-scooter tender may be published in the next two weeks. That’s according to a heavy hint dropped by the city’s deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, in a discussion yesterday with Reuters.
Quizzed on the status of the capital’s forthcoming e-scooter programme, Alexander said: “I think that Transport for London will be intending to go out to procurement, on getting some partners in to run the trial – so, as I say, watch this space because I hope that some news will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks on that.”
As to why the tender is taking so much longer than in other UK cities, Alexander said: “One of the things in London that is quite specific to our city is that, whilst we’ve got Transport for London as the overall transport body, we’ve also got 32 London boroughs. What you wouldn’t want is a trial whereby you could only use a rental e-scooter in one borough but you then couldn’t hop over into the next borough. People don’t live their lives like that.”
Of course, this whole discussion is taking place against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic and the crisis that has caused TfL budgets, as well as political wrangling over government bailouts. But TfL is taking its time to properly evaluate the best methods of introducing an e-scooter scheme, with mountains of learning already available from across the UK to draw upon.
Alexander went on: “We also want to be really sure that any trial that we run in London has safety at its heart. We want to make sure that the actual e-scooters that are being used are the top quality, highest safety standards. We have been doing quite a lot of work with local authorities on this so that we can have a joined-up approach.”
And, to further underline what TfL will be looking for in its e-scooter partners (expected to be two or three for the trial programme), Alexander had this to say about how other private companies, such as Uber, are expected to behave: “TfL is a regulator of those operators. So the first thing to be said is that all of those operators need to play by London’s rules. If you want a collaborative relationship with Transport for London, its important you get the basics right first.”