The New Paper has learnt that local start-up Telepod will be launching its e-scooter sharing service on Monday with 10 e-scooters available for rent -a first in Singapore.
Users can download the free Telepod mobile app from the Apple Store and Google Playstore, which they can use to rent the e-scooters at $1 for every 10 minutes. A one-time $49 refundable deposit is required.
Mr Louis Goh, Telepod co-founder and chief operating officer, told TNP that Telepod plans to extend the service to other areas.
Telepod is implementing designated zones for the e-scooters to be picked up and dropped off, with the first one located outside Suntec Convention Centre's main entrance.
It plans to target last-mile trips, which it considers the most inefficient part of public transport. Last-mile distances are defined as the distance between a commuter's main mode of transport and his destination.
The maximum speed of the scooters has been capped at 25kmh to comply with Land Transport Authority (LTA) requirements.
Mr Goh said he was aware of shared bicycles being stolen, discarded indiscriminately and even dumped in canals.
But he said: "With an enforceable designated zone, we can deter this from happening."
The e-scooters can only be picked up from or released within the designated zone using Telepod's in-house tracking technology. To end the trip, users need to scan the QR code at the designated zone.
All e-scooters will also have GPS tracking and alarm systems, and can even be remotely disabled when required.The maximum time limit for rental is six hours.
Personal mobility devices (PMDs), which include e-scooters, are not allowed on roads. Offenders can be fined $2,000 and face a jail term of up to three months.
Transport experts TNP spoke to welcomed the e-scooter sharing service.
Assistant Professor Terence Fan, a transport specialist at the Singapore Management University, said: "The public is now learning to use bike-sharing systems, so it's a good time for the public to learn about the e-scooter systems too."
Prof Fan said e-scooters will allow for less strenuous rides.
He said: "The disadvantageis that they are more powerful, and the riders may therefore be more prone to accidents."
Dr Lee Der-Horng, a transport researcher with the National University of Singapore, was more sceptical about the service and how users are prevented from stealing or damaging the e-scooters.
He said: "The operator will have to face higher risks than bike-sharing companies. I expect e-scooters to be more expensive than bicycles. You can have a good system, but user behaviour is difficult for anyone to predict and manage.
"With the expansion of MRT lines and covered walkways, places will be more accessible. There will be less last-mile travel, and the marginal benefit of PMD or bicycle sharing might diminish."
Associate Professor Michael Li, transport economist at Nanyang Technological University, said: "Singaporeans are ready for this. My sense is that with reasonable scale and good connectivity, this should create impact on the last-mile problem."