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App-based electric scooter rental launches in Phuket

Facebook/BEAM Thailand

BEAM scooters have arrived in Phuket and you may have already seen the distinctive purple two-wheelers whizzing around places like Patong, Old Town and the Laguna area. The electric scooters, which have been introduced by Singaporean firm, Beam Mobility Holdings, can be rented via an app, also called “Beam”.

The company was founded in 2018 by 2 Singaporeans, one of whom formerly worked for ride-hailing firm, Uber. The 2-wheeled personal transportation devices, also known as Saturn eScooters, are made in China.

In the Laguna area of Phuket, BEAM has provided 18 parking areas, known as “landing pads” for over 100 scooters. The app provides location details, showing the user the location nearest to him or her. Then it’s a case of making your way to the nearest scooter, scanning the barcode on the handlebar, and riding away. Once you arrive at your destination, you scan the code again and the app tells you how much you owe.

As an example, a quick ride from the Dusit Thani Hotel in Laguna to the Boat Avenue shopping complex costs around 30 baht – compared to 200 baht in a taxi. If there is no dedicated parking provided at your destination, you can park the scooter anyway, but will have to pay an additional “retrieval fee” of 50 baht. You do not need to notify BEAM of the scooter’s whereabouts – the technology provides the firm with that information.

Of course, there are some concerns, particularly given Phuket’s notorious road safety record. Over 14,000 similar scooters were introduced to the roads and pavements of Rome 3 years ago and provided an alternative to public transportation during the Covid pandemic.

However, according to Rome City Hall mobility, 4 people have died in scooter accidents during that time. On average, there’s a scooter-related injury that reports into emergency departments in hospitals around Rome every 3 days. The Italian authorities say, ironically, that the main problem is that the scooters are TOO quiet, and no one can hear them coming.

Phuket also has a brief, but painful, history of app-related personal transport back in 2017. Then, the yellow Ofo bikes became almost ubiquitous overnight. People would walk to one of the many ‘stations’ around town, scan the bike with their smartphone, connect their credit or debit card, pedal around and then return the bike to any station. And the small rental fee would be taken out of the rider’s account.

Fast forward a year, and Phuket kids had commandeered the Ofo bikes left stranded around the island and the canals of Phuket Town were littered with discarded yellow bike wrecks.

Let’s hope that this new purple-power app-based electric scooters get a better run as they could add another, much-needed, alternative for transport around the island, especially for shorter journeys where the current transport is limited and expensive.

For more information on BEAM scooters, CLICK HERE.

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