Two e-scooter sharing startups in Singapore, namely Neuron Mobility and Telepod, have been charged with providing unlicensed services.
Neuron Mobility and Telepod was fined $38,000 and $16,000 respectively, amounting to a total of $54,000.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) had implemented a Parking Places (Amendment) Act in May 2018 in a bid to curb indiscriminate parking in Singapore.
It applies to all dockless vehicle operators, and LTA had informed both firms of this new law on more than one occasion.
They were informed that they could not operate their e-scooter sharing services in public places as they did not possess a licence or exemption.
However, LTA found 48 Telepod e-scooters between 14 July 2018 and 19 February 2019, and 93 of Neuron Mobility’s between 10 October 2018 and 12 February 2019.
Telepod, Neuron Had Applied For A Licence
In an appeal, lawyers of both firms said that they could not obtain a licence to operate sharing services of personal mobility devices at the time of their offences.
Licence applications opened on January 4 and both firms had sent in their applications before the deadline of February 4.
However, no licenses have been issued thus far as LTA boosts enforcement efforts following a series of PMD-related accidents.
“Time was required to place necessary safeguards ensuring the maintenance, and keeping safe and roadworthy vehicles used in the licensable service. This is to ensure the safety of users and the general public,” said LTA prosecution officer Daniel Marini.
Regardless, Neuron Mobility has ceased its operations in July when it was no longer financially viable, and Telepod also halted its operations here in August.
LTA responded that it did not “unjustly prohibit or restrict” their business scope, but “only slightly curtails the manner in which their operations may be conducted”.
Moreover, the firms were given two months from the date that the Parking Places (Amendment) Act was passed to tweak their business model.
The judge understands that LTA wants to provide a “rigorous licensing regime”, but lamented that the delay in issuing licenses would “inevitably have an impact” on businesses such as Telepod and Neuron Mobility.
“Such startups may have sought to foster their entrepreneurship spirit by being the forerunners of their trade or field even before new laws are enacted and new policies implemented,” she said.
“A robust licensing framework can then be produced to address both operational and safety requirements including, in this case, the need for UL2272-certified e-scooters to be used for hire to ensure fire safety, mandatory third-party insurance as well as measures to facilitate responsible riding and prevent indiscriminate parking of e-scooters.”
Featured Image Credit: Telepod / Digital News Asia