Scooter fleet eyeing up resort

A fleet of up to 300 e-scooters is slated to soon park up in Queenstown.

Information received by Mountain Scene indicates Australian-based company Beam Mobility intends to launch a ‘‘tourism-centric’’ e-scooter rental service in the resort, operating in partnership with local hotels and businesses.

The model will allegedly work on a revenue-sharing basis with local operators, in return for private vehicle parking space.

Scene also under stands Beam, which already operates fleets in five locations around New Zealand including Auckland and Palmerston North, is working closely with Queenstown’s council.

A Beam rep claims the council ‘‘broadly endorse’’ the plan and model, according to the info seen.

A proposal document obtained by Scene says the company intends to set up a 10 square kilometre operation boundary around an area including Frankton, the CBD, Fernhill and Sunshine Bay.

Any business partnering with Beam isn’t required to contribute capital expenditure, insurance or maintenance — Beam allegedly handles it all and provides commission on every trip from partner parking hubs.

The proposal also promises several ‘‘slow speed zones’’ and ‘‘no ride zones’’ in high pedestrian areas in the CBD, as well as a ‘‘dedicated 24/7 marshal team’’ to service the fleet and monitor for issues.

Furthermore, scooters won’t be able to park anywhere but ‘designated private parking zones’ — non-compliance will result in an immediate $18 fine to the user.

While the service, according to the document, is expected to ‘‘provide visitors and locals in Queenstown with an affordable, convenient and fun way to move around’’, e-scooter proposals have historically been met with criticism in the resort.

In 2019, plans for Lime scooters to enter a six-month trial agreement with council to operate 400 scooters in Queenstown were met with public outrage on social media.

Concerns mounted over scooters endangering public safety and increasing congestion, before the proposal was canned due to Covid.

When Beam reps visited Queenstown a fortnight ago to meet operators, Novotel general manager Jim Moore says he chose not to engage as he doesn’t support the introduction of e-scooters in the resort.

‘‘Our streets are busy as it is and we are trying to pedestrianise them more, so I cannot understand the logic of adding scooters.’’

Moore approached council about the proposal and was allegedly told as scooters wouldn’t be left on public land, a trial had been sanctioned.

‘‘I am not sure there is a city in the world where scooters exist where they are not left on public land,’’ Moore quips.

While he supports the use of scooters in places like Christchurch with ‘‘large, flat, open areas’’, he’s concerned the introduction of a fleet in Queenstown will become ‘‘yet another frustration for visitors and residents’’.

A Beam rep tells Scene the company’s ‘‘always seeking opportunities’’ to expand its NZ operations, and is keen to work with councils interested in adopting ‘‘shared micromobility’’.

Queenstown’s council couldn’t respond to Scene inquiries by deadline.

The proposal at a glance

● Riders will only be able to ride within the boundary area and park at dedicated parking zones located on private land (hotels, resorts, cafes, etc)

● Participating businesses will receive a share of revenue in return for providing parking zones

● Beam will establish several enforced ‘no ride zones’ and ‘speed restricted zones’ in high pedestrian areas in the CBD

● Vehicle speed will be controlled using ‘advanced GPS technology’ to ensure compliance with relevant NZ law

● Scooters will cost $1 to unlock and between 45 and 75 cents per minute, operating 24/7 with max speeds of 25kmh

● Beam’s comprehensive insurance covers riders, the general public and partners for injury and property damage

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