The rental e-scooter trial in Sunderland has been extended until May 2024 – but Zwings will take over operating the machines in the city from Neuron Mobility.
The UK government recently approved the extension of rental e-scooter trials until May 2024, with the final decision left to individual councils. But while Neuron has run the trial in Sunderland since its launched in November 2020 the firm said that it chose not to bid for the extended contract. Neuron’s Sunderland operations will end on November 30.
Sunderland City Council has now appointed Zwings to run the rental e-scooters in the city. The firm, which was recently acquired by Zeus Mobility Group, operates in more than 30 cities, including Cheltenham, Gloucester and Yeovil in the UK.
Zwings will initially launch with a fleet of around 100 of its blue e-scooters during the winter, with plans to double the size of the fleet during 2023. Final timings and details of the launch are currently being finalised.
Councillor Claire Rowntree, Sunderland City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for Clean Green City, said: “Newer, greener and low-carbon transport is important for all of us and we have welcomed working with previous trial operator Neuron and we wish them well.
"I am delighted that we have been able to move quickly to appoint Zwings so that residents and visitors can continue to enjoy the benefits of low carbon travel.”
Zwings chief operating officer Stephen Bee said the firm was “excited to launch our e-scooters in such a vibrant city as Sunderland.” He added: “We aim to enable more people to switch away from car usage and towards a smaller form of transport with lower carbon emissions.”
Corman Quinn, Neuron’s UK manager, said: “Neuron has made the difficult decision not to reapply for a new e-scooter contract in Sunderland. A number of commercial factors, including increasing energy costs, have led us to make this decision. Neuron’s operations will cease by 30 November 2022.”
Quinn added that Neuron would work with Sunderland to “achieve a smooth wind down of the service”. He added: “We will be communicating fully to our riders and will be reimbursing any outstanding passes or credits. This will not affect our operations in Newcastle which will continue as normal.”
Since the Sunderland e-scooter trial began in November 2020, the council said that more than 20,000 riders travelled more than 170,000 miles. As estimated 40 per cent of those trips replaced car journeys, which equates to around 18 tonnes of CO2 savings.