Just over a week in, and there are still unanswered questions around when — or if — e-scooters will reach their full potential in Queenstown.
In the months-long build-up to the delayed launch of Beam Mobility, the expectation was it would provide a viable, environmentally-friendly transport option for both visitors and locals, operating from Fernhill to Frankton.
But when the scooters appeared last week, users found they couldn’t travel past the roundabout connecting Fernhill Road, Glenorchy-Queenstown Rd, and Lake Esplanade.
And while Queenstown Central and Five Mile are rideable zones, no businesses in the Frankton area have partnered with Beam to provide parking spaces for scooters.
Essentially, a user can currently go for a leisure ride around Frankton, but unless you want to pay to keep the scooter running outside while you’re shopping, it’s not an alternative to taking the car on the supermarket run.
In response to inquiries from Mountain Scene, a Beam spokesperson says: ‘‘Over the coming weeks, we aim to expand the availability of partner parking locations to ensure e-scooters are a viable alternative to cars for the local community.
‘‘We will be looking to expand our operating area to areas like Fernhill and Frankton very soon.’’
Regarding the scooters’ ability to make it up steep gradients including Fernhill without users hopping off to push, Beam says the e-scooters are built to ‘‘handle the terrain over cities and towns all over the world’’.
‘‘We’re confident that our e-scooters will be able to handle hilly terrain.’’
In December, Queenstown’s council signed off on a memorandum of understanding with Beam, emphasising the need for an e-scooter operation which focuses on the needs of locals, including late-night hours and access to residential suburbs, like Fernhill.
A week in, Beam says the average trip distance in Queenstown is 18 minutes, almost twice as long as the 10-minute national average in Beam’s other New Zealand operations.
‘‘This is typical of tourism-focused cities and towns, where riders ride for longer and leisure trips make up a bigger proportion of trips,’’ the spokesperson says.