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Bird e-scooters are back in Brussels after two-year 'hibernation'
After almost two years of absence, Bird electric scooters have come home to roost again in the Belgian capital, with a fleet of 500 scooters now available across Brussels with more expected to follow.
“People are now much more cautious about using public transport,” says Jonatan de Boer, a representative of Bird in Benelux. “We offer them a corona-proof alternative.”
In January 2019, the company confirmed that their scooters would be taking an extended winter break, "due to the weather conditions and a shrinking demand". The hibernation would eventually last almost two years, but now Bird is back to compete once again with rival companies Lime and Dott.
The intention is to scale up the supply according to demand, "and we expect to make 1,500 Bird-scooters available as early as next week," says de Boer. Bird is offering 15-minute rides for only a euro over the next two weeks, he adds.
According to the spokesman, Bird scooters stayed away for longer than expected due to several factors which meant an upgrade to the scooter design itself was necessary.
"Two years ago, we had only just started and used another scooter that was not suitable for the Brussels infrastructure,” de Boer says. “Now they have a better battery, there is less wear and less need for maintenance." In addition, scooter providers now have to apply for a permit and this caused some delay.
It seems a brave choice to launch a new scooter fleet during a crisis in which the number of commuters has fallen sharply, but according to de Boer, that is actually a plus: “There are indeed fewer commuters, but with our scooters people can travel in a corona-proof way and through that we reap the benefits.“