While many of us are cozied up in bed there are hundreds of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders doing graveyard or evening shifts.
A vast number of these workers are in hospitality and healthcare. They are our nurses, chefs and waitstaff. And, of course, the thousands of workers that support our day-time economy overnight - making deliveries, stacking shelves and manning fuel stations.
As us day-time workers slumber or play, and as the bus frequencies die down to one bus every hour or two, essential workers that fuel cities’ night time economy run their errands and make their commutes. And getting around, especially after dark, can be a challenge.
To get a better understanding of the commuting behaviours of those working at night, we recently conducted a survey among night shift hospitality workers in Brisbane who have been regularly commuting on Beams since our launch in 2021.
When they were asked what they would do if shared micromobility was not available, over one-fifth (21%) said they would drive a car to and from work. A higher number (36%) said they would walk home. Just over one-quarter (26%) said they would use public transport.
All the survey participants said that e-scooters were a preferred alternative as it enabled them to get to and from work without long wait times for public transport, without paying for parking or needing access to a car, and it was quicker than walking.
In particular, the women surveyed raised significant anxieties about personal safety if they had to walk home, or wait for public transport. E-scooters are seen as a speedier and safer ‘door-to-door’ form of transportation.
We know that when communities consider new transport modes such as shared e-scooters, ‘after hours’ antisocial behaviour is a consideration. As a society, we have been conditioned to think that ‘nothing good happens after midnight’ - but that is far from the truth.
The night-time economy that springs up to support our leisure time, but also vital essential work that happens at night, is a vital part of how society functions. If we don’t support the after-hours economy and the people who make it work, the shelves of our supermarkets don’t get stocked, our morning newspapers don’t get delivered, and our hospitals, fire stations and warehouses are short-staffed.
Across Australia and New Zealand, 15% of trips on a Beam happen between the hours of 10pm to 6am. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of trips, with the proportion growing as e-scooters become available to more of the community. Studies also show the number of people working night shifts is increasing. For example, in New Zealand, the number of night shift workers has increased by 60% in a decade according to Stats NZ.
Technology for equitable and safe night-time transport
At Beam, we are committed to equitable transport, and want to play our role in helping to solve the safety and frequency issues of night-time mobility, ensuring safe access to transport whilst deterring anti-social behaviour on our vehicles.
The inbuilt technology of our e-scooters can be harnessed to deliver a laser-targeted solution not seen in current modes of transport like cars.
With cars, drunk driving is policed by organised or random police patrols, but the cars themselves have no technology that can prevent such behaviour. With Beam e-scooters, our technology can help. We are rolling out a pre-trip drunk-riding deterrence test to check a rider’s cognitive response (scientifically correlated with alcohol intake) before they can start a trip. Those who fail the test will have their access to Beams suspended for six hours. Those who pass - our night-time essential workers! - can ride home safely.
Our newest e-scooters, currently rolling out across the region, also boast industry-leading GPS trackers delivering improved, centimetre-specific accuracy when setting boundaries for our operations, and ensuring a higher level of rider compliance and enforcement.
We are also trialling an AI-powered on-board camera in Australia that can accurately detect pedestrians, and slow a scooter down to prevent a collision, and also reduce the speed of an e-scooter if it’s riding on a shared path or footpath. This is particularly important with legislation governing e-scooters different in every state. This will enable councils to set the riding rules specific to their area. This technology will soon be available in all our cities across Australia and New Zealand.
Also coming soon are AI-powered sensors that can detect specific rider behaviour, and prevent it in real time. Think tandem riding, and aggressive swerving and braking, often a sign of an unruly rider. We will be able to deliver an immediate warning to the rider, or shut down their access to the vehicle in real time.
Our e-scooters will soon have the capability to detect and prevent unsafe riding to a level never seen before - not just in e-scooters, but on any other mode of transport. When we say we don’t want the actions of a few to ruin the experience for others, we mean it - and are working on developing further technology to ensure it.
We owe it to the workers of the night-time economy that transport is just as available and safe as it is for the rest of us who live life in the daylight.