Salford’s electric scooter trial scheme has been extended to include the MediaCityUK area, opening it up to workers commuting into the media hub.
All key workers can currently hire e-scooters free of charge via the Lime Aid scheme, run by the scheme’s operator, Lime.
The trial launched in October 2020, but initially only covered the university campus area around Peel Park and Frederick Road.
The extended area now includes one route connecting those sites to MediaCity in Salford Quays.
Hal Stevenson, Lime’s Public Affairs Manager, UK, said: “From our perspective anyone that’s still being required to travel should have the option to do so in a safe and socially distanced way.
“We know that our service can provide that and we’re very happy to do it.”
While lockdown restrictions impacted the scheme’s first phase – particularly after students were asked not to return to campus – initial takeup was good, with more than 12,000 trips and 23,600km travelled so far.
However, in line with government restrictions, the e-scooters should currently be used only for essential trips like commuting or shopping.
Any employee who needs to travel to work is able to claim free rides via the Lime Aid scheme, which the company is running across its several UK sites.
The trial area includes the Salford Crescent train station, so scooters could be used for the first or last leg of a commute.
Any adult with at least a provisional driving licence can download the app and hire a scooter.
The trial scheme’s third phase is planned for late March, likely expanding the area east until the River Irwell and west across Pendleton – and including Salford Royal Hospital.
That would allow Lime to offer free trips to and from Covid-19 vaccinations.
There are hopes the scheme may have a life beyond the pandemic.
A collaboration between Lime, the University of Salford, Transport for Greater Manchester and Salford City Council, it reflects the University of Salford’s interest in micromobility.
Mike Brown, the university’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, said: “With e-bikes and e-scooters you have a mode of transport which is flexible and clean, and it will hopefully reduce congestion.
“I think micromobility is going to become a core part of the urban mobility structure.”