E-SCOOTERS SCOOT OFF TO A PROMISING START

In May when I was in Singapore for an assignment, I chanced upon two Dutch tourists using e-scooters to navigate around Orchard Road. After some drinks with them, I decided to try the e-scooter, a Neuron, myself – for the first time. It was quite a revelation – not only was it easy to control, it was very smooth-riding, fun and exhilarating to glide past pedestrians. It felt safe too. Certainly, in my view, it was one of the best transportation modes for cities with wide sidewalks.

Text by Jan Yong

It would seem Singapore isn’t the only city with a moderately thriving e-scooter sharing scene. In the US, currently, it’s at the same early stage as when bicycle sharing first started – with a few major players negotiating permit requirements with the regulators in each state plus, loads of funding being poured into this new industry.

“Each scooter is projected to earn roughly double what it costs to maintain and charge, and they will be able to pay off what it costs to buy each scooter in just 10 to 14 days,” claim the fund raisers who consist of Bird, Lime, Skip and Spin. Established ride-sharing players like Uber, Lyft, and Alibaba- backed Ofo have also jumped into the bandwagon.

It’s expected that most of the US cities where permits for e-scooter sharing is sought will cap both the number of players as well as the number of e-scooters for each player.

Growth has been especially strong in the first few months of scooters being on the ground in cities like San Francisco, Santa Monica and Washington, D.C. while New York, Boston and Chicago can also expect to see e-scooters on the ground if legislation allows it.

But as in any business – challenges abound. In this case, a page can be taken from the bicycle sharing business which is seeing some regulatory hurdles in some jurisdictions, due in part to the operators’ failure in controlling users’ behaviour.

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