E-scooters to be trialled on Wellington streets

14 February 2019

Wellington City Council has decided to proceed with a trial of the city’s first electric scooter share scheme.

Generic image of model on scooter

Councillors on the City Strategy Committee today voted 8-5 in favour of the trial which will initially last six months, but can be extended by 12 months. The extension will allow time for consultation and policy engagement.

Seven companies have approached the Council to operate electric scooter share schemes in Wellington: Blip Scooters, Flamingo, Fuutr, Lime, Onzo, Scoot International, and Goat.

Licences will be given to two companies following evaluation of their applications, and between 600 and 800 e-scooters could be on the streets by mid-March.

Public submitters spoke both in favour and against the trial, with opponents concerned about footpath safety, and that pedestrians would lose precedence.

Mayor Justin Lester, who backed the trial, says it gives the Council more control over how the scooters are rolled out across the city.

“The trial will test the demand for e-scooters, how they fit in the context of Wellington, and rider behaviour,” says the Mayor.

“We are keen to see if an e-scooter share scheme encourages more people to replace some private vehicle trips – whether they just want to get across town or use it as part of their commute.”

Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman, the Council’s Portfolio Leader for Transport Strategy, stressed the e-scooters were on trial.

“We have to be brave enough to say ‘let’s trial something and see what happens’. I expect to see officers monitor usage and how the providers would educate their users.”

Operators can track where scooters go and set electronic boundaries (‘geo-fencing’) for where they can’t.

This will be used to enforce a ban on hiring e-scooters within the busy Courtenay precinct after 9pm, Friday to Sunday and on public holidays, by disabling scooters parked in that area after 9pm.

Councillors voted that e-scooters should not be allowed on footpaths in the CBD or suburban shopping centres.

They also voted for more conditions, including:

  • Restrictions on their use on the seaward side of Oriental Parade from Herd Street to Freyberg Pool
  • They must obey existing cycling speed limits on the waterfront and be encouraged to keep left
  • Scooters have registration numbers so improper use can more easily be identified
  • The operators will be charged $45 per scooter for the six-month trial
  • Room will be left for new operators, who are not yet ready, to enter the trial.

The Botanic Gardens, including the Rose Garden and Anderson Park, Bolton Street Cemetery, Otari-Wilton’s Bush and Truby King Park are also off limits.

Operators will also have to contribute $10,000 to a public safety awareness campaign in conjunction with the Council.

Cr Calvi-Freeman says the best chance to manage outcomes for the city is likely to be through the licensing of commercial operators so people are less inclined to buy their own scooter.

“The Ministry of Transport and NZ Transport Agency are considering options for regulation but this could be some time away.”