2 e-scooter sharing firms fined $54,000 for operating without licence

Telepod personal mobility devices (blue, above) and Neuron Mobility PMDs (orange) parked at Marina Bay Sands earlier this year. Both companies were charged under the Parking Places Act.
Telepod personal mobility devices (blue, above) and Neuron Mobility PMDs (orange) parked at Marina Bay Sands earlier this year. Both companies were charged under the Parking Places Act. ST FILE PHOTO

Two companies were yesterday fined a total of $54,000 over unlicensed dockless e-scooter sharing services for the public to use.

Neuron Mobility and Telepod have become the first two firms to be dealt with in court for offences involving the public sharing of personal mobility devices (PMDs).

Neuron was fined $38,000 after it was convicted of 19 charges under the Parking Places Act. Telepod was fined $16,000 after it pleaded guilty to eight similar charges.

The prosecution officer for the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Mr Daniel Marini, said LTA told the public on July 4 last year that those without a licence issued by it cannot operate undocked vehicle-sharing services in public places in Singapore.

Twelve days later, LTA informed Neuron about the regulations through a letter sent by registered post and via e-mail.

The letter also told the company to stop providing e-scooter sharing services in public places. Its chief executive officer Wang Zi Zi confirmed that he had received the e-mail, the court heard.

But between last October and this February, enforcement officers from LTA's Active Mobility Enforcement Division found 93 undocked e-scooters belonging to Neuron in public places.

They were in places such as Fullerton Road, Boat Quay and outside Amoy Street Food Centre. The officers managed to hire all 93 e-scooters and the devices were impounded by LTA for investigations.

Similarly, LTA informed Telepod of the regulation in May last year. The authority sent the company a letter via registered post and an e-mail about the matter on July 11 last year. Telepod's chief executive Gan Jin Ni confirmed receiving them, said Mr Marini.

The enforcement officers, however, found 48 undocked Telepod e-scooters at places such as Beach Road and near Haw Par Villa MRT station from July last year to this February.

In her grounds of decision, District Judge Lorraine Ho said: "Parliament has mandated that a person is no longer authorised to provide any licensable vehicle-sharing services of PMDs, such as e-scooters, to the general public for hire and allowing the hiring of these PMDs to end in or at public places undocked.

"This is unless he or she has been granted a licence to do so or has been exempted from obtaining such a licence if such services are located within one-north, CleanTech Park or Republic Polytechnic."

Neuron and Telepod have since stopped operating here. For each charge, each company could have been fined up to $10,000.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2019, with the headline 2 e-scooter sharing firms fined $54,000 for operating without licence. Subscribe