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Latest data reveals twists and turns of UK shared e-scooter fleets

31 March 2022

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When the UK shared e-scooter trials launched back in summer 2020, the original plan was for them to end in November 2021, giving the Department for Transport (DfT) a good year’s worth of usage and demographic data. This got pushed back by the DfT to the end of March 2022, due to the slower than anticipated rollout, and then again further back to November 2022. This additional extension may be aiming to avoid a service gap between the formal end of trials and new legislation allowing them to run post-trial. However, not every operator and local authority partner may have applied for their trial to be extended to November, with one trial looking like it may be ending today.

Indeed, this may be your last chance to ride an e-scooter in Rochdale. The scheme has its one year anniversary tomorrow, but there has been no indication of any extension beyond today. The Lime app shows parking spaces and the operating zone, but no e-scooters available.

Rochdale looks to be a tough operation. At launch, up to 500 e-scooters were promised in the town and surrounding urban areas, but we never saw more than 90 in the app across the last year, and indeed there has rarely been more than 30 visible.

Lime’s nearby Salford operation appears to have been much more successful. Lime has expanded its Salford operating zone several times, and added in many more e-scooters.

After approaching Lime for a comment, Conor Chaplin, Public Policy at Lime UKI, said: “The 12-month e-scooter trial in Rochdale has been a great success both in introducing a sustainable new form of transport into the town and helping Lime, Rochdale Borough Council, and Transport for Greater Manchester to understand what a future Greater Manchester-wide e-scooter hire scheme may look like. 

Over 3,000 Rochdale residents made 12,000 e-scooter trips during the trial, replacing some 3,000 local car journeys with a zero-emission alternative.”

Bird recently announced that its Canterbury operation had extended to November 2022. It had looked like its operations were coming to an end in Redditch with the number of e-scooters reducing from 180 to 30 over the last week, but this was just a prelude to a new trial extension until the end of November 2022, alongside the launch of its new ‘Bird Three’ e-scooters.

Many of the e-scooter fleets in the UK are boosting numbers as the summer riding season approaches. Nottingham’s LINK fleet has continued to build out following its new platform launch, with almost 700 e-scooters now available. In Bath, Voi’s numbers have doubled. And Zwings in Cheltenham now has over 200 e-scooters in the town.

But it is clear that not every town and city in the UK will work for shared e-scooters. Closures so far in the trials have included Clacton, Coventry, Redcar, Stafford, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Crewkerne and Chard. Yet nearly 50 other towns and cities are still operating shared e-scooter fleets so the UK story can be considered a success so far. 

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