A Taiwan startup has launched a new scooter sharing service in Taipei, a city already well-known for the widespread use of its bicycle sharing system.

The new service, WeMo Scooter, is being trialed in the central Da-an, Xinyi and Zhongzheng districts for the next three to six months, state-tun CNA reports.

After usage, the electric scooters can be parked at any legal parking spot, within the designated district, rather than needing to go back to the company’s charging stations.

Users need to download the company’s app — currently it is only available on Android but the company hopes to offer it to iOS users soon — to register and find available scooters.

The company, which has been working with city authorities on the program's development, is initially charging users NT$25 (US$0.80) a minute for the first 10 minutes, and then NT$2.5 for every minute after that. It has 200 scooters available for the trial period.

If Taipei’s YouBike bike-sharing program can be used as an indicator, WeMo Scooter may well be poised for success. YouBike, which has been expanded to cities around Taiwan, boasts one of the top global usage rates for similar bike-sharing systems.

Taipei follows the southern city of Chiayi, which launched an electric bike and scooter sharing service late last year.

Taiwan, with a population of 23 million, has an estimated 14 million scooters and motorcycles. However, the uptake of electric scooters has to-date been relatively slow.

Strategic consultant Wayne Gao wrote earlier this year that the massive use of individual, petrol-powered vehicles is the main source of CO2 emission, air pollution and noise in Taiwan’s cities.

“In [the] Taipei metropolitan [area], nearly 70 percent of ambient air pollution is from [the] transportation sector,” Gao wrote in an article published by the Sustainable Cities Collective website. “Most critically, the high personal vehicle usage has shown no sign of decline in the recent years even [since] the city has operated a new affordable Metro Rapid Transit (MRT) since 1998.”

With the addition of WeMo Scooter, Taipei is joining a number of other major cities around the world trying to use electric scooter sharing systems as a cleaner, more convenient transport solution.

Last month, Taipei-based electric scooter manufacturer Gogoro launched an app-based ride-sharing program in Berlin, Germany. Earlier this year, Saturna Green Systems started testing a similar service in Vancouver, Canada.

New app-based ride-hailing services have also proven wildly popular in Indonesia. In Jakarta, companies including Go-Jek and GrabBike, which offer on-demand rides on motorcycle taxis, known locally as an ojeks. GrabBike, which entered the market in mid-2015, already had an active daily user base of about 1.5 million people earlier this year, the Jakarta Post reported in February.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole