Darwin hopes e-scooters will boost economy 

City of Darwin Council hopes the rollout of smart e-scooters will help people get around in the heat while providing a tidy boost to the local economy.

The council has green-lit a 12-month trial using around 300 Neuron Mobility scooters in 37 locations across the city. They will use bikeways, shared paths and footpaths.

Josh Sattler

After the trial, which could begin as early as August, the council will welcome expressions of interest from other operators for a permanent rollout.

Josh Sattler, general manager for innovation, growth and development for the City of Darwin, says he’s “over the moon” about the plan.

“It’s really exciting for us. We have beautiful green spaces but it’s so hard to get around because it’s quite hot. Motorised scooters are a great option for both locals and tourists, providing a quick, effortless and inexpensive mode of transport to move around the city.”

The rollout follows similar scooter sharing schemes in Adelaide and Brisbane, but Mr Sattler claims Neuron’s scooters, from southeast Asia, have “a lot more bells and whistles” than the green scooters brought to Brisbane by Californian tech start-up Lime.

Data gathering

Neuron Mobility scooters are already used in Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur, but Darwin will be the first market globally to use Neuron Mobility’s new commercial grade N3 e-scooter, which the company claims are built strong to ensure smooth and safe rides.

The N3s are smart scooters that will access a lot of data from users’ profiles – where they’re going, what time of day they’re travelling and what shops they’re driving past. The move may cause privacy concerns among locals, but Mr Sattler wants users to focus on the improved travel experience and the huge benefits of collating that information for local businesses.

He expects the scooters to be an economic boon for the city.

“You’re scooting past a place instead of driving, so you can just pull up, park the scooter and go and look at those shoes you’ve been eyeing up for three days,” he says. “This has got some great economic outcomes for our CBD and our suburbs as a whole.”

The trial requires no funding from the City of Darwin; the user will pay for the scheme – at a rate of $0.15 per minute, although weekly and monthly passes will also be available.

The user will simply hire their scooter using an app, which will give them details of where to find it, a secure code to activate it, information on where they can ride and locations of geo-fenced parking points.

The N3 scooters can travel at a maximum speed of 20km/hr. Even so, Neuron staff on the ground will apply infringement on the back of misuse, which could include a lockout period. The scooters will also be removed at a certain time of the evening.

Responsible use

Mr Sattler has faith locals and tourists will use the scooters responsibly.

“We’re fundamentally empowering the user to take responsibility for the scooter because while the wheels are turning, you’re being charged.”

His main concern is whether there will be enough scooters for everyone.

“The cruise terminal welcomes 4,000 visitors every three or four days so it’s whether we’re going to have enough scooters in the city for them to all get that experience.

“But that’s why it’s a trial. Twelve months from now, we should be able to get it right.”

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2 thoughts on “Darwin hopes e-scooters will boost economy 

  1. “access a lot of data from users’ profiles – where they’re going, what time of day they’re travelling and what shops they’re driving past. The move may cause privacy concerns among locals”

    Yes, this will cause privacy concerns, especially when the customer is paying for the service and having their data harvested.

    200 scooters is a very small sample, and it would be quite easy to identify who the specific users are.

    We need to implement GDPR-type regulations in Australia sooner rather than later.

  2. I hope your politicians in Darwin handle the scooter situation better than the politicians have here in San Diego.

    Various scooter companies have randomly dropped more than 25,000 dockless scooters, and they just keep coming. It is a nightmare, as riders dump them wherever they want when they are finished riding, usually lying them down on the sidewalks, with no regard for the disabled or elderly pedestrians. And unlike what the scooter companies suggest, the majority of the riders are tourists, underage children, and drunk college kids. Very few riders use the scooters as an alternative to their car; they use them as an alternative to WALKING.

    Aside from the falsehoods the scooter companies are feeding us all, our local doctors estimate between four and six SERIOUS scooter injuries per DAY (requiring hospitalization), and we had our second scooter death here in San Diego County on March 15th. Yet we STILL have no regulations, and the ones that our mayor has proposed are ridiculous!

    An acquaintance of mine started his own YouTube page of videos taken from his balcony of scooters riders on the Mission Beach Boardwalk. Lots of “ouch” moments. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsN9bHroXuxz8UaANU6Eb5A

    I truly hope things turn out better for you than us. If not, there will unfortunately be a lot of scooter injuries and accidents to write about in the coming months/years.

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