NHS, Armed Forces and emergency service workers can take advantage of free travel on e-scooters until the end of the year as the trial hits its first birthday.
The scheme has proven so popular that, to date, 100,002 miles have been travelled on the electric vehicles – equivalent to more than four times around the world.
In July 2020, Middlesbrough became the first place in the UK to launch a trial of the electric vehicles with Hartlepool following suit shortly after.
The rollout has seen 14,625 users take 29,800 journeys across the towns, with the UK-wide pilot being such a success that it has been extended by the Government until March 2022.
Mayor Houchen has welcomed the Free Rides for Heroes initiative launched by Ginger, the UK-based e-scooter company working in partnership with the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, which will now run until 31 December.
Mayor Houchen said: “Now we’re at the end of the first year of operation, we have a much clearer picture of just how well-liked these e-scooters are, and the figures are really encouraging.
“We initially had a couple of small teething problems, as anyone would expect, but these quickly dropped off to result in a fantastic year that continues to show people are embracing e-scooters as a clean, efficient, reliable and socially distanced form of transport. It’s also had a knock-on effect, with seven new jobs being created on the back of it.
“I’m delighted we and Ginger are also able to give something back to those that have worked so hard over the past 18 months in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The extension of the Free Rides for Heroes scheme will help more of our vital NHS staff and Armed Forces get around for less, with one of the bays located at James Cook Hospital to make it even more convenient.”
Ginger CEO Paul Hodgins said: “We’re incredibly happy with how the people of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough have taken up using our e-scooters – with one Twitter user calling them ‘the best thing to happen to Hartlepool’.
“As well as helping people get from A to B, it’s delivering benefits in other ways. As a direct result of this pilot, for example, we’ve been able to save almost 27 tonnes of CO2 emissions, helping to boost the area’s clean energy credentials.
“We also want to help those that have helped so many others, with an extension of the Free Rides for Heroes programme. To date, 1,000 people have already signed up to take advantage of the offer and I’d encourage other emergency, NHS and Armed Forces workers to do the same!”
E-Scooters are currently in operation throughout Hartlepool and Middlesbrough and can be ridden by anyone over the age of 18 with a provisional driving or moped licence. The e-scooters are limited to a top speed of 11.5mph and are barred from entry to high-risk and pedestrian areas. The wearing of helmets is also recommended.
For more information on Free Rides for Heroes, visit www.ginger.town/free-rides-for-heroes