Second delay for PMD-sharing is 'part of a review to extend safety measures'
Observers welcome second postponement, which LTA says is part of review to extend safety measures to firms applying for licences
The authorities continue to have cold feet over the sharing of personal mobility devices (PMDs) with a second delay in the decision to award licences for the services in public places.
Originally slated for the second quarter of this year, it was postponed by three months by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) because of safety concerns.
This time, LTA did not commit to a specific timeline, just saying that it will announce the licence application results at a "later date".
This comes after what is believed to be the first fatality from a PMD collision on a public path, which has sparked calls for a ban on such devices.
Cyclist Ong Bee Eng, 65, died last week after a collision with a speeding non-compliant e-scooter.
It is not clear if Madam Ong's death or the recent spate of PMD accidents led to the delay, but LTA said in a statement yesterday that it will consult device-sharing and rental companies on additional regulations to improve public safety.
Its spokesman said: "This is part of a review to extend safety measures to all e-scooter sharing and rental companies, as they provide devices which are more easily accessible to the public, including less experienced riders."
In 2017 and 2018, there were 228 reported PMD accidents on public paths, with 196 resulting in injuries.
In addition, LTA said suggestions to implement locally developed trackers to monitor the speed and location of PMDs needed to be studied further.
This is due to difficulties in ensuring the accuracy of location data and making speed-tracking devices tamper-proof.
PMDs are restricted to a maximum of 25kmh on shared paths and 10kmh on footpaths as of February this year. They are not allowed on roads.
When LTA announced the first delay in May, it said it needed more time to review the additional requirements on licensees to ensure the safety of users and the public.
This included UL2272 fire safety certification and third-party liability insurance.
A total of 14 companies vied for PMD-sharing licences when applications closed in February. Only sandbox licences lasting a year were to be issued, restricting fleet sizes to no more than 500 devices.
At least two operators - Chinese firm Mobike and US-based Lime - have since withdrawn their applications.
Local start-ups Neuron Mobility and Telepod, which were fined this month for providing PMD-sharing services illegally, have paused their operations.
Welcoming the delay, Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan questioned if the operators could ensure their users, especially foreigners and tourists, obey PMD regulations.
There is also an issue with the riding culture here, added Mr Tan, who has touched on the same points in Parliament previously.
He told The New Paper: "We should look at the present situation and try to improve the culture and safety record before we introduce shared PMDs, especially on a wider scale."
In a written parliamentary reply earlier this month, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said PMD-sharing licensees will need to include the essential active mobility regulations, such as speed limits and prohibitions against riding on roads, in their mobile applications.
National University of Singapore Business School's Associate Professor Lawrence Loh suggested operators set a minimum age and have a blacklist of recalcitrant errant riders.
He added: "Better late than do something fast but do it wrong."
The PMD-sharing operators were either resigned to or disappointed by the new delay.
Beam vice-president of corporate affairs Christopher Hilton said: "We are hopeful the delay will be short, and LTA will conduct meaningful consultations with operators to address any concerns that have not been raised during the eight-month evaluation process...
"Having licensed, public sharing services is an effective way to manage errant use of e-scooters and enhance public safety."
Telepod chief marketing officer Chan Jit Yen said she had expected a delay following news of Madam Ong's death.
She said: "We need to understand why LTA delayed the licence. It is mainly for safety reasons. We will work closely with LTA to see how we can help them and the whole industry make this sharing thing work."