42 shared e-scooters impounded for operating illegally

According to the LTA, the personal mobility devices were found in areas such as Bencoolen Street and Bayfront Avenue. PHOTOS: LTA

SINGAPORE - A total of 42 shared e-scooters found in public spaces here were impounded between July and October this year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) revealed on Tuesday (Nov 13).

The personal mobility devices (PMD) - comprising 26 from Neuron Mobility, 15 from Telepod and one from Beam - were found in areas such as Bencoolen Street and Bayfront Avenue, the LTA said.

This was in contravention of the Parking Places Act, which prohibits such devices from being offered for hire on public land without a licence or an exemption by the Transport Minister.

Under the act, unlicensed operators can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to six months, with a further fine of $500 for each day it continues to operate after conviction.

The LTA said exemptions have been granted only for operators such as Telepod to provide their services in areas such as the one-north business district, in light of an existing agreement with landowner JTC.

"These operators are strictly not allowed to provide PMD-sharing services at public places beyond the specified boundaries in one-north," said the authority.

It noted that Beam did not have such an exemption to operate anywhere on the island, and that its e-scooter was found at the Bugis MRT station despite the firm having been given prior notice of regulatory requirements.

The LTA said it was "disappointed" that the three firms - all of which are based in Singapore - had deployed their PMDs illegally on public land, despite "repeated reminders and warnings" between July and October this year.

The authority added it is investigating Neuron Mobility and Telepod for providing PMD-sharing services at public places without a licence or exemption.

"LTA would like to remind all operators that when evaluating licence applications, LTA will consider their track record, including their compliance with the law and regulatory requirements," it said.

The licence places a cap on the number of devices a firm is allowed to operate here and requires these firms to take measures to curb indiscriminate parking.

The next licence application exercise will be conducted in January.

In response to queries, Beam said it had disabled its app to ensure none could be hired, after previously receiving a warning from the LTA.

"Beam staff continue to ride branded e-scooters as we work towards applying for a licence in January, but these e-scooters are unavailable for hire to the public," said Beam corporate affairs vice-president Christopher Hilton.

Telepod said it had been deploying its devices "responsibly" in numerous areas, such as one-north and the Central Business District, and that it was actively taking action against users who parked indiscriminately.

The firm's chief executive, Ms Gan Jin Ni, said the firm was committed to operating responsibly and working closely with the LTA.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) encouraged consumers to patronise licensed operators when using bike or e-scooter sharing services.

"Separately, consumers should take note to minimise their deposit payments or shop around for alternative services that do not require prepayment where possible," said Case executive director Loy York Jiun.

He added that users should consider paying for such services on a per-use basis, instead of signing up for monthly or yearly user passes, as this will help to minimise losses should the business fold.

Bike-sharing firm oBike, which folded unexpectedly in June this year after 18 months in operation, was reported in August to owe about $9 million in unrefunded deposits.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.