It is now around one year since many of the shared e-scooter trials in the UK were launched by the Department for Transport.
The trials themselves were originally set to finish 12 months after launch, or in November 2021, but in May the DfT asked for the trials to be extended to March 2022, subject to operator and council agreement.
Many councils have been deciding whether to extend and, in some cases, have formally consulted. Most have now confirmed that the e-scooters will remain on the streets until March next year.
Operators appear to be keen to continue with the trials, despite the many challenges they face, not least that, at the scale they operate at, the fleets will struggle to be profitable. They will generally have an eye on a post-trial future where much larger and less restrictive operations may be possible, as in much of the rest of Europe.
The extensions are great news of course for current and potential users. Sudden cessation of e-scooters on the streets is not helpful to anyone using them regularly for commuting, errands or work purposes. While the long-term legalities of e-scooter usage, particularly private usage, have yet to be determined, there is likely a hope that, in the areas where the e-scooters have been particularly popular and made a real difference to mobility options, the operations will be able to keep going until a decision is made on legalising the mode in general in the UK, rather than a significant break in service occurring.
Extension announcements for many of the towns and cities where e-scooters are available for hire have been announced regularly over the last month.
Zag Daily has rounded them up and noted those which have been quieter too. Might we still see some closures later this year?
Formally confirmed as extended to at least March 2022:
Aylesbury, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Cambridge, Cheltenham, Corby, Gloucester, High Wycombe, Kettering, Liverpool, Northampton, Oxford, Princes Risborough, Rushden & Higham Ferrers, Salford, Sunderland, Taunton, Wellingborough, York.
Assumed extended to 2022 as still operating past their original trial end date:
Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Redditch, University of Warwick, West Bromwich.
Already due to finish on/after March 2022 due to a late start to the trials programme:
London, Minehead, Rochdale.
Closed early or on their original trial end date:
Coventry, Redcar, Stafford, Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Council or operator in negotiations or consulting to extend trial, not yet confirmed:
Bristol, Chard, Chester, Crewkerne, Isle of Wight, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Yeovil.
No news on whether the trial is being extended:
Basildon, Bath, Canterbury, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Great Yarmouth, Newcastle, Scunthorpe, Slough, Southampton, Whitehaven.
The lack of news on a Canterbury trial extension is concerning. Canterbury’s fleet, run by Bird, was recently scaled back from being across its built-up area to just a corridor-based fleet connecting the nearby university campuses and station. The council recently reported that the fleet has been subject to criminal damage, and the operator has reduced the number of scooters in operation from 200 to under 50.
However, overall the UK trials have been a great success. With well over a million journeys a month during the summer, and relatively few reported issues, it looks like the UK has adapted well to the novel form of transport and that in some towns and cities it is making a meaningful positive input to the urban realm.