Snapshot: Yeovil records extraordinary scooter journeys

It may be a tiny trial but the town's average ride distance and time are staggering.

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One of the country’s smallest shared e-scooter trials is taking place in Yeovil, Somerset. Zwings launched there on 22 October 2020 with a fleet of 25 scooters, adding another 15 at the beginning of this month. The total fleet of 40 means there’s roughly one scooter for every thousand residents.

But don’t let the diminutive size of the town or trial fool you: uptake is as strong as higher-profile places and the pilot has some unique numbers of its own to boast about.

Over the period 22 October to 02 November 2020 (12 days), here’s what South Somerset District Council reported to Zag:

  • 925 rides
  • 828 users
  • Average journey distance: 2.92 miles
  • Average  journey time: 29mins
  • Longest journey distance: 14.61 miles

These numbers mean that Yeovil e-scooters have racked up, on average, a little more than 3jvd (journeys per vehicle per day) in their first 12 days of operation. That figure is squarely in our “good” category when compared to bike-share, though we have seen higher figures under some other scooter schemes.

Where Yeovil really pulls away from the pack is in average and longest journeys. Riders are staying aboard for nearly half an hour, which either suggests long journeys or that riders are making good use of the “pause” function to pop in and out of shops. This is a feature we’d like to see rolled out by other operators, to make scooters useful for more than simply A-to-B trips.

The average journey distance of around three miles is about a mile longer than we typically see elsewhere. This may be due to the geography of Yeovil, and may suggest that the e-scooters are being used for more than just connecting to transit or other transport modes.

In Yeovil, the operating patch covers the whole built-up area, except the area around West Coker. It includes Yeovil Pen Mill railway station, allowing for some station-to-town centre journeys, although Yeovil Junction railway station, which is on the mainline but in a rural area and some distance from the town along country lanes, is not included. Pedestrianised streets in the town centre are also excluded.

Rental fees are £1 to unlock and 15p/min to ride. Riders must finish their journeys in one of 14 designated scooter hubs, but they can pause a trip elsewhere in the town for a 10p/min holding charge.

These early numbers suggest that Zwings is providing a useful, positive service for Yeovil residents and visitors. The stats also suggest e-scooter sharing also has a place in smaller urban locations, providing a viable alternative form of socially-distanced transport to the private car.

“This trial helps with our environmental strategy to reduce vehicle use, and increase electrified transport to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gases and improve health and wellbeing,” a council spokesperson told Zag.

It’s an impressive start and deserves to contribute to DfT findings just as much as some of the marquee programmes elsewhere in the country.

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