PMD-sharing services: Firms to be restricted to small-scale operations

Personal mobility device (PMD) sharing operators will be restricted to "small-scale operations" when licence applications begin in January next year, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min announced in Parliament yesterday.

Operators will be allowed to apply for "sandbox licences" with limited fleet sizes, said Dr Lam, though he did not specify the number of devices allowed.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is taking this "cautious approach" to better assess an operator's ability to follow the rules before granting a full licence.

"This will limit the impact of their operations and allow LTA to assess the operators' operations and ability to comply with regulatory requirements, before LTA considers granting any full licences for large-scale operations," said Dr Lam.

He added that LTA is also studying other issues related to the business, including fire risks and the need for third-party liability insurance.

Dr Lam was responding to Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who had asked why licence applications for PMD-sharing services were being allowed.

Mr Tan had also asked whether the Government would consider delaying the introduction of such services until the "riding culture for PMDs has improved and incidences of unsafe and inconsiderate usage have subsided".

 
 
 

Dr Lam noted that the registration regime for e-scooters, which will begin in January as well, will require all e-scooters here - including those owned by PMD-sharing companies - to have identification stickers to facilitate enforcement and deter reckless riding.

Although Dr Lam did not specify fleet sizes, two bicycle-sharing companies - Anywheel and GrabCycle - were previously granted approval to operate a fleet of 1,000 bikes each under a sandbox licence. A third company, Qiqi Zhixiang, was allowed a fleet of 500 under the same licence.

Licence application exercises for device-sharing services are conducted twice a year, with the next round of applications in January.

The licence places a cap on the number of devices a company can operate and requires it to take measures to curb indiscriminate parking.

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

Two PMD-sharing companies here - Telepod and Neuron Mobility - are currently operating under an exemption that allows their devices to be used within specific areas under an agreement with land owners, without a licence.

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'PMD-sharing services: Firms to be restricted to small-scale operations'. Print Edition | Subscribe