Covid-19: Key workers get free e-scooter rides in England

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As England prepares to enter its second national lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic, Voi, the operators of an e-scooter trials in Birmingham, Northampton, Liverpool, Cambridge, Bath and Bristol, is allowing NHS and emergency service staff to access its micromobility services for free.

Another e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility, has also announced that it will be providing a new free monthly pass for NHS and emergency services workers to access its e-scooter trial currently underway in Slough, England.

The NHS (National Health Service) is facing one of the worst winters in recent history as the fight against coronavirus steps up along with new lockdown measures. During the first lockdown in March, public transport services across the country were reduced following a fall in demand, which made it more difficult for key workers to get to and from work, on top of the already stressful shifts they were facing daily.

For Lockdown 2.0, Voi is providing NHS and Emergency Service workers with free rides as part of its Voi 4 Heroes initiative throughout the duration of the second lockdown, so it is easier for them to travel around in a socially-distanced manner in their city. To apply for a Voi 4 Heroes pass, users need to upload a valid NHS identity,  Blue Light card or a Defence Discount Service through the Voi Website. The ID card must be clear and legible and include the full face of the document. On receipt of the proof, Voi will send a confirmation email allowing the rider to claim free rides in the Voi app, any rides taken before are not eligible for discount. Existing Voi users will receive in-app and email messaging updates, to raise awareness of the initiative and the latest Covid-19 guidance.

During Covid-19, e-scooters have become an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to travelling around cities by car or public transport. Voi launched UK services in selected cities over the last two months, as part of the UK government trial, and is now operating in six major UK cities, with more trials soon to be announced.

To keep riders safe, all Voi e-scooters are disinfected daily and the handlebars of each scooter feature copper tape which minimises coronavirus on contact. The Voi app also provides Covid-19 information and advice such as advising riders that they can wear gloves if that makes them feel more comfortable.

Other Voi safety features include encouraging riders to wear helmets, implementing geofenced no-ride and slow-go zones to keep speeds to at 5mph in required areas, while Voi staff monitor scooter activity, making sure they are well parked and maintained. All Voi e-scooters include number plates to help identify riders and reports of misuse are dealt with in close collaboration with local police.

In Slough Neuron has implemented a range of cutting-edge antiviral measures to protect riders. The company has teams on the ground working around the clock with hospital-grade disinfectant, to keep its scooters and helmets germ-free. There are also reminders in the app for riders to sanitise their hands after completing a journey, and every trip is logged so which can help with contact tracing if required. For Neuron staff, extra sanitisation practices and revised illness and travel policies have also been introduced.

Zachary Wang, CEO of Neuron Mobility said: “We want to show our sincere gratitude to Slough’s NHS and emergency services staff as they continue to travel to work every day to care for people, while many of us have the option to work from home. During these difficult times we remain even more focused on providing a safe and efficient transport option for those people that absolutely must travel, including those on the frontline in the NHS, and Emergency Services.”

Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “The news of a second lockdown across England will be distressing for many. At Voi, we want to ensure that key workers can get around safely, without having to use public transport or be hit by cancelled services. This is why we’re offering free passes to NHS and Emergency Service Workers during this lockdown period. When facing a stressful day at work, the last thing you want to be worrying about is how to get home, and we hope that Voi can make things just that little bit easier for workers on the front line.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).