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Neuron Mobility charged with providing e-scooter sharing service without licence

E-SCOOTER sharing startup Neuron Mobility was charged on Thursday with providing its services at public places without the required licence or exemption, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a media statement.

As of Monday (Feb 25), LTA has impounded 144 of Neuron's personal mobility devices (PMDs) for being made available for hire illegally at public places. This was after repeated written warnings were given to the startup, LTA said.

It remains to be seen whether the development will impact Neuron's pending application for an e-scooter sharing licence with LTA. In its statement, LTA reiterated that when assessing licence applications, it will consider the companies' track record, "including their compliance with the law and regulatory requirements".

Neuron Mobility CEO Zachary Wang said that confusion among Neuron's users contributed to indiscriminate parking on public land. When asked if some of the impounded scooters had been placed at a certain location by Neuron's own staff rather than users, Mr Wang declined to comment, citing ongoing court proceedings. 

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Apart from Singapore, Neuron also operates in Thailand and Malaysia. When asked what the startup would do if it does not obtain the licence with LTA, Mr Wang said: "In the worst-case scenario, if it really goes down that path, which I hope it doesn't, we have to grow elsewhere. This is something we definitely don't wish to see, because it's a Singaporean company." 

Neuron had been in discussions with LTA after it received written warnings, he added. On why the situation nevertheless escalated, he said that he would not be able to comment on LTA's approach on the matter. 

Neuron raised S$5 million in seed funding led by venture firm SeedPlus in December. SeedPlus partner Chirayu Wadke declined to comment on the latest development.

Like Neuron, fellow e-scooter sharing startup Telepod was charged on Feb 21 for providing PMD-sharing services without a licence or exemption. Some 68 of Telepod's PMDs have been impounded by LTA as at Feb 14.

LTA said that it takes a "serious view" of companies providing PMD-sharing services illegally. Unlicenced operators can be fined up to S$10,000 and/or face a jail term of up to six months. They may receive a further fine of S$500 per day, or part of a day, if the offence continues after conviction.