Can electric motorcycles be an opportunity for better public transport? Yes, says TRANSIT (Update#2)

Update: Read about the official 17 March 2011 launching of the EcLiMo electric motorycle here! Some of the features & cost points have changed a great deal!

You might not think, at first, that TRANSIT would support the idea of introducing electric motorcycles to the roads of Malaysia. After all, TRANSIT is involved in improving public transport, and motorcycles/scooters are a competitor to public transport.

You would be wrong.

TRANSIT exists to improve public transport but we also aim to improve transport options and choices for the public – and believe it or not, electric motorcycles/scooters are a great way to do this.

One of the perennial problems for public transport is reaching out to customers. It is, after all, a very complicated proposition.

The ‘First Mile’ and ‘Last Mile’ Challenge

Customers prefer the convenience of 1 trip service and they want public transport to be located conveniently – both to their starting point and their destination point.

Unfortunately, it costs money for operators to provide these starting (‘first mile’) and finishing (‘last mile’) services.  If the areas are low density and dispersed, it costs even more money – which explains why public transport operators like RapidKL have cut back on their ‘local’ and ‘feeder’ services in the past few years.

Unfortunately, without that reliable ‘first mile’ and ‘last mile’ services, most people will simply choose to use private transport instead – most likely a car, but possibly a motorcycle/scooter.

So how do motorcycles/scooters fit in?

Motorcycles are popular for short distance trips because they are convenient to use and quick. They can generally avoid most forms of traffic congestion, can be parked easily, and are cheap to operate.

The drawback to a motorcycle/scooter is of course the safety and comfort factors – which is why a large number of motorcycle/scooter users would probably prefer to use their motorcycles for short distance trips rather than long distance trips – as well as the impact of unplanned parking on our cityscape (especially the pedestrian environment).

What we need to do is encourage motorcyclists to use their motorcycle/scooter for short trips to cover the ‘first mile’ of their journey. For example, they would ride the motorcycle/scooter to a public transport hub like an LRT station or bus hub, then use public transport for the longer distance trip.

This will do a lot to reduce the number of motorcycles making long trips on our roads.

But what about the ‘Last Mile?’

Using a private motorcycle solves the ‘first mile’ of the trip and public transport if reliable takes care of the majority of the trip – but what about the ‘last mile’ where there is no motorcycle?

Here is where electric motorcycles would be an excellent solution

Electric Motorcycle Sharing Program

Imagine that at each of the major suburban LRT and KTM stations and bus hubs in the Klang Valley, there was a small kiosk with fully-charged electric motorcycles/scooter, available for rental.  A person getting out of the LRT or bus service would simply use their Touch N’ Go card to unlock a motorcycle/scooter and use it for their errands.

When they return the motorcycle/scooter they would lock it, set it for recharging, tap the Touch N’ Go card to complete the payment, and go back to the LRT or bus and be on their way home.

Features of the ecLiMo(Eco Lithium Mobility) motor scooter:

Expected Cost: RM3,000 for the first 10,000 units, RM6,000 thereafter
Expected Performance: like a 125cc petrol-powered scooter

Body design: Step-through scooter
Motor design: ‘In-wheel’ electric motor with regenerative braking capability

Maximum speed: 110kph
Maximum range: 100km

Recharging time: 3 hours using 240v household electricity outlet
Cost for 100km of operations:

  • Electric scooter – currently RM0.87/100km;
  • petrol scooter – currently RM6 / 100km

Additional information is available at info@flinders.com.my

TRANSIT: Updated information including price & performance can be found here.

It sounds to us like a simple, secure, environmentally friendly, and above all, convenient solution to the ‘last mile’ and short distance transport.

What do you think of the idea of using electric motorcycles to cover the ‘last mile’ of a public transport trip? Comment below or send us an email at klangvalley.transit@gmail.com

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6 thoughts on “Can electric motorcycles be an opportunity for better public transport? Yes, says TRANSIT (Update#2)”

  1. once malaysian.. always malaysian… it such a great idea.. but it may remain as an idea only
    .. do you really trust malaysian people in using it and returning it back .. i mean.. in fully function??

    no offense..

    In bangkok or Jakarta.. this motorcycle works as a taxi.. transport one person from one place to another.. (Not renting the bike).. this idea could be used..

    LPKP might hold such permit for this motorcycle by then.. the idea might look Backward already..

  2. Very true, ganz.

    The Velib bike rental system in Paris, though highly popular and successful, suffer from vandalism on most of its bikes. Though the bikes are especially made to be hardy, the operator still often finds its bikes and docking stations broken. Mischievous riders dump the bikes into the river or hang them up. Velib bikes have surfaced in neighbouring countries too. It is only surviving because of the advertising opportunity provided by the system.

    There used to be a time when Malaysians use bicycle as a mode of transport. Thankfully, Singapore has managed to protect this practice by providing ample sidewalks and bike paths. Now, they even find their bicycle storage at MRT stations running out of space and having to build and extend more and more.

    1. An unmonitored bicycle sharing program would not work in Malaysia – but a well-monitored motorcycle sharing program would have far better opportunity to work, especially if it is linked to public transport.

      According to the latest article, the electric motorcycle has an ‘in-wheel’ motor design and can use regenerative braking – so that also means that electronic locks can be placed on the motorcycle.

      Regards, Moaz for TRANSIT

  3. sorry for the late respond. But from the letter that i got from RTD similiar skuter like this cant be on road..i said it in case of solarin turtle. they keep it and maybe this will be just our dream. a little napolean here and everywhere

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