Shared e-scooter operators have launched a flurry of new trials in the UK just before the Department for Transport (DfT)’s deadline for the end of March.
The date for all launches to start had already been extended from last autumn and may well be extended again, although the DfT is still yet to confirm details despite the fact we’re now in April.
First up is Bird in Canterbury, who have massively expanded their operating area, and opened up their fleet for public hire, on Monday.
Bird is perhaps the most infamous “brand” of e-scooter sharing, following their saturation of many US cities a few years ago, but their presence in the UK has been quieter than expected.
It has a public fleet of (currently) around 180 scooters in Redditch, a town south of Birmingham, plus a now closed pre-DfT-trial operation in London’s Olympic Park, along with a heavily constrained trial in Canterbury.
This Canterbury trial is open only to staff and students and only allowing travel between university campuses and the railway stations.
The plan was to gradually expand the area, and open it up to public use in August.
However, Kent County Council and Bird have jointly decided to bring those plans forward, and so residents of the ancient city have an Easter present – now they can actually try those scooters that have occasionally appeared on the streets, without needing an “ac.uk” email address.
Bird has so far deployed around 100 of their black and white machines onto the streets.
Canterbury’s geography and historic nature means it suffers traffic congestion and its railways, universities and other destinations are not well located for the city centre. E-scooters should provide a great solution to this problem.
Ginger Great Yarmouth and Whitehaven expansion
Next in line this week was Ginger who have launched 30 appropriately orange e-scooters in Great Yarmouth in Suffolk, almost the most easterly town in the UK.
Ginger has also this week expanded its Whitehaven operation in Cumbria, moving out of a business park there into the town itself and opening it up to all.
At just 15 scooters strong, it vies for “smallest UK fleet” with Chard and Crewkerne, two small Zwings fleets in Somerset which launched last week.
Also launching is Neuron in Sunderland, starting on deadline day – March 31.
Neuron also operates a fleet in nearby Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and so has highlighted that the two operations are connected by the famous Tyne and Wear Metro, meaning travel between the two places is now just that little bit easier.
Initially 20 e-scooters are in Sunderland, joining around 160 in Newcastle itself, with the numbers in both set to continue to expand as the demand arises.
Notably, the service will be free on weekdays between 5am and 9am, for the first three months.
Lime will be launching a collection of their green e-scooters in Rochdale, a town to the north-east of Manchester, mostly likely this week still (time is running out to launch before the Easter break).
The US-based micromobility giant already has another fleet at the other side of the Mancunian conurbation, at Salford, although this is very constrained to just serve Media City and the university there.
Zag understands Rochdale will have a more open and general operating area, allowing all to make the journeys that they wish to, by e-scooter, in all directions.
Market leaders Voi might finally (it was first unveiled in November) deploy what could be their first mainly rural fleet, based in and around the town of Barnstaple, in North Devon, in the next few days.