Wheels fall off e-scooter plan

• Councillor Ashley Wallace has been riding an e-scooter for a year.

A PLAN for five inner-city councils to collaborate on an e-scooter share scheme has fallen apart after the City of Perth got cold feet.

Originally Perth was meant to be part of a five-way collaboration to trial e-scooters between Vincent, South Perth, Subiaco, and Victoria Park councils, taking in UWA and Kings Park.

But Perth council got worried that agreeing on an operator amongst themselves could get complicated. It was also concerned the scheme could risk triggering anti-competitive laws, given they could be up against private operators without a ratepayer-funded workforce. 

It decided to advertise its own expressions of interest last month.

Vincent CEO David MacLennan told councillors at November’s briefing “that wasn’t a concern that I had, or that the City of Vincent shared”.

Cr Ashley Wallace said: “It’s really disappointing that the City of Perth has essentially chosen to go it alone.”  

Stuck

It means Vincent will likely be either stuck with going with the same provider Perth chooses, or have to make sure its own choice is cross-company compatible. 

It’s not an auspicious bookend to the first three years of the so-called “Inner City Group” of councils, which signed a memorandum of understanding in 2019 to work together on a range of projects like creating ‘smart cities’, cooperating on delivering services, and working on planning reform together. 

The MoU has been extended for another three years after ending on November 2 with much of that work incomplete.

“It is still early days in the formation of the Inner City Group,” an apologetic line read in a Vincent council staff report about the MoU. 

“Some of the planned initiatives were not prioritised during the past two years due to the impacts of COVID-19.”

E-scooter hire trial

AN e-scooter hire scheme is coming to Vincent for a 12-month trial in the hope of luring some of the 67 per cent of residents who drive to work away from their gas-guzzlers.

Vincent’s had a longstanding problem that going east-west between its neighbourhoods isn’t easy without a car; there’s almost no public transport serving those directions.

The council reckons electric scooters might fill the gap, with estimates hiring an escooter to get across town would cost about 80 cents for a 10 minute trip, and hopes it’ll make for less traffic congestion.

Cr Ashley Wallace is an e-scooter enthusiast who’s been riding one for a year, and said at the November 15 council meeting: “I’m personally quite lazy, I was never going to ride a bike. 

But his e-scooter is “the one thing that’s got me out of the car and I hope that’s something that happens across our community”. 

Stirling council has been trialling an e-scooter hire scheme along its coastal suburbs since February. 

It’s currently consulting on whether to continue the scheme beyond the one-year trial. 

About 65 per cent of people who responded to Stirling’s last round of consultation were favourable, though some complained of late night e-hoons getting rowdy on their rides. 

In winter the council tried a one-month curfew that remotely locked down the scooters between 10pm and 5am, and it will now consider whether to bring back the curfew if the trial’s made permanent. 

Vincent will now seek an e-scooter company to run the scheme, who would have to pay for any infrastructure. 

Schemes 

There’s two main e-scooter hire schemes; ones with ‘docks’ where scooters are returned to a hub, and the free-range types which have sometimes led to them being tossed all over the place. 

A Vincent council report says that the main companies interested in a rollout in Perth are the dockless types, but notes that remote-control technology has gotten better to allow the scheme operators to “ensure parking compliance” and prevent riders taking a scooter miles out of the trial zone. 

The council will also write into any contract that the operator must “maintain a good level of service” so they can pull the plug on the scheme if the company starts leaving bikes around. 

by DAVID BELL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s