A new operator has been announced for a micromobility pilot in Birmingham, which will see 200 e-scooters made available to hire in the city and surrounding communities.
Some 700 more are set to be rolled out incrementally by the end of September 2023.
Beryl was appointed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Birmingham City Council as the new e-scooter pilot’s operator and has taken over from previous scheme operator Voi.
Safety features highlighted by Beryl include driver licence scanning and random and targeted photo checks to deter misuse.
The operator also runs an e-bike hire scheme in the city, with both vehicles being available to hire through the same app.
A major change from the earlier scheme in Birmingham means the new scooter will need to be collected from and returned to a designated dock or parking bay to deter irresponsible parking.
In recent months, micromobility schemes have faced criticism from disability rights’ group due to their obstruction of pavements.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “After what was always designed to be an initial e-scooter trial, we took the opportunity of a break in contract to try a different approach with a new operator.
“…Central to Beryl’s approach is a docked or parked system which will help reduce clutter on the roadside – ensuring tidier streets and a better experience for pedestrians. Another key element – crucial given previous incidents and lessons to be learnt – is putting in place more safety checks and enhanced verification of users in order to deter underage riders and other instances of misuse.
“E-scooters must be operated responsibly and – in partnership with Beryl – we will continuously monitor these new measures to ensure local people can be reassured about what we’re offering.”
The e-scooters cost £1 to unlock and 20p per minute to use; riders need to be a minimum of 18 years of age.
Beryl currently operates three other DfT-approved e-scooter rental schemes in the UK in Norfolk, Bournemouth, and the Isle of Wight, respectively.
It is one of only two B-Corp certified operators in the UK, with Beryl claiming to design and manufacture its own products and technology onshore.