Europe’s E-Scooter, Transit Partnerships are Quietly Setting a New Global Standard

“A perfect complement”.

That’s how Fernando Vallejo, Director of Innovation and Systems at Globalvia, described the relationship between e-scooters and public transport in Spain late last year. The company made headlines recently by pairing with Bird to create the country’s first public-private micromobility partnership. It’s not likely to be the last. 

Such alliances are becoming increasingly common in Europe as e-scooters integrate more fully into daily life across the continent. The reasoning is elegantly simple: cooperative partnerships such as these tend to benefit all involved, from riders and cities to mass transit and micromobility service providers. 

“Working cooperatively with transit authorities allows us to effectively address two key pillars of urban mobility: equity and sustainability,” said Rebecca Hahn, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Bird. “Such collaborations afford the best prices and transportation offerings to riders while also allowing transit and e-scooter operators to support, supplement and learn from one another. The result is greater mobility independence for citizens and fewer polluting cars on the road in cities.”

Direct public-private alliances such as these are just one way that Europe is taking the lead on establishing a new standard of cooperation between micromobility and public transportation. 

MaaS Integrations

In the northern Belgian port city of Antwerp, officials have gone another direction, asking all transportation providers to integrate with Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms to help residents seamlessly access all available options. Such robust integrations require a high level of trust and cooperation between companies as they combine route planning, schedules, vehicle location and even payments from multiple providers in one application. 

“New mobility options like Bird e-scooters and well-established systems such as trains, trams, buses and water-buses are now staples of a modern, healthy and thriving transportation ecosystem,” said Antwerp Deputy Mayor Koen Kennis. “It’s essential that cities and operators work together to ensure that these robust networks are accepted by and easily accessible to the broad public.” 

In response, micromobility operators Bird and Circ worked quickly last year to integrate with two of Antwerp’s leading MaaS platforms, Skipr and Tranzer, to help accomplish this goal.

“The collaboration with Bird has been very constructive to make this integration work from both a technical and business point of view,” Mathieu de Lophem and Jens Verhiest, CEO and Head of Partnerships respectively at Skipr, said in a statement. “We were particularly surprised with the agility and can-do attitude of Bird, a quite large mobility start-up. This agility and attitude resulted in easy communication and alignments in realizing this integration.”

Increasing Need for Cooperation

It’s likely that this type of cooperation between e-scooters and mass transit will continue to spread across Europe and beyond—and quickly. 

In December, we predicted that expanded MaaS integrations and further collaboration with transit authorities would be one of three key micromobility trends to watch for in 2021. This is in large part due to a global COVID pandemic that has taught us the importance of transportation networks rich in redundancies such as e-scooters, bikes and public transit. 

Bird is committed to continuing our efforts to integrate more seamlessly with other service providers, and we look forward to sharing more information about new and exciting partnerships with you in the weeks and months ahead. 

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