Transforming cities with micromobility

BEAM Mobility, a micro-mobility operator, reported over a million e-scooter trips in Malaysia in 2022, 10% of which were to or from public transport.

A clear sign of public acceptance of the first and last mile transportation service and a signal that people would ditch their cars if better on-demand offerings were available.

The Malaysian government has also taken similar policy-making steps.

Since the country’s 15th general election in November 2022, priority has been given to improving public transport services, with clear measures seen in the 2023 budget.

Significant resource allocations are planned for Prasarana, a hopeful respite for commuters who are reported to spend an average of 159 hours in transit on their daily commute.

Recent parliamentary discussions show positive signs that the government is moving towards integrating micro-mobility into Malaysia’s public transport landscape.

Micromobility such as e-bikes and e-scooters are bridging the first and last mile connectivity gap and have the potential to make public transport use more ubiquitous.

Alongside planned improvements to bus and rail networks and targeted developments for pedestrian-centric infrastructure, local authorities in Kuala Lumpur and Ampang Jaya have shown their openness to innovative ideas to solve their city’s connectivity problems.

Globally, particularly in Europe and the Pacific regions, micro-mobility is increasingly being recognized by transport experts and academics as a real solution for the future of mobility with its highly technological yet easy-to-use offering to the public.

It’s an industry that’s expected to grow to RM947 billion globally by 2030 and is projected to transform the way people move and the way cities are designed.

Perhaps we will see more curb parking being replaced by places that are people friendly and actively mobility oriented, leading to more vibrant cityscapes in Malaysia.

The introduction of micro-mobility can also potentially benefit city governments by helping them reduce costs.

Since shared micro-mobility service providers bear all the costs of providing and maintaining these first- and last-mile modes of transportation, while also creating jobs for the gig economy, the government would not need to spend billions of ringgit in transit projects to expand these services to the public.

Opportunities abound in Malaysia and with government support, we are seeing exponential growth in the micro-mobility sector and continued investment by key players in the Malaysian ecosystem.

We see ongoing partnerships between governments, local authorities like the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) and DBKL, micro-mobility service providers like Beam Mobility, and research groups like the Micromobility Research Partnership that have led to the safe deployment of over 3,500 shared e-scooters distributed on the Malaysian Peninsula.

Penang, a state with a long history of providing alternative modes of transportation such as trams, trolleybuses and ferry services, would benefit greatly from better mobility.

Local residents and tourists can now easily access the rich UNESCO-certified heritage and unique cosmopolitan nature.

Kuching, Sarawak also has significant potential in this regard.

The state has been flying the flag of alternative energy and public transportation for more than a decade.

It has introduced hydrogen buses and electric cars, and will soon introduce an ART tram system and wider bus networks, which aim to expand rich heritage, history and culture, and tourism.

The success, sustainability, health and resilience of our great and interesting cities are hugely important and better mobility can help make that happen.

Let’s focus on bringing about effective change at street level, and let’s use micromobility as a catalyst to address a key pain point we’ve struggled with for so long – first and last mile connectivity.

Comments: Transforming cities with micromobility

Russell Falcon

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