March 13, 2023
Beam Mobility, a micromobility operator, reported over 1 million escooter trips recorded in Malaysia in the year 2022 with 10% of them being to or from public transit facilities. A clear indication of public acceptance to the first and last mile transport service and a signal that people would leave their cars behind if better on-demand options are available.
The Malaysian government has also been taking similar strides in policymaking. Since the country’s general election in November 2022, public transport service improvements were said to be prioritized with clear action observed in the Budget 2023. Significant resource allocations are slated for Prasarana, a hopeful respite to commuters who reportedly spend an average Malaysian 159 hours in traffic whilst on their daily commute.
Recent parliamentary discussions show positive signs of the government leaning towards incorporation of micromobility into Malaysia’s public transport landscape. Micromobility, like e-bikes and e-scooters, fill the first and last mile connectivity gap and has the potential to make public transport usage more ubiquitous. Along with the planned improvements to bus and rail transit network services and targeted developments for pedestrian-focused infrastructure, local authorities in Kuala Lumpur and Ampang Jaya have shown their openness to innovative ideas to solve their city’s connectivity issues.
Globally, particularly in Europe and Pacific regions, micromobility is increasingly recognised by transport experts and academics as real-world solutions for the future of mobility with its high-tech yet simple to use proposition to the public. It’s an industry that’s expected to grow to RM 947 billion by 2030 globally and is tipped to transform the way people move around and how cities are designed. Perhaps we will see more curbside parking lots replaced with spaces that are people-friendly and active mobility-focused, making for more vibrant city-scapes in Malaysia.
Micromobility adoption can also potentially benefit city councils by helping them cut costs. With shared micromobility service providers bearing all the costs of providing and maintaining these modes of first and last mile transport while also providing jobs for the gig economy, the government wouldn’t have to fork out billions of Ringgit in transit projects to extend these services to the public.
Opportunities are rife in Malaysia and with support from the government, we see exponential growth in the micromobility sector and continued investments from key players into Malaysia’s ecosystem. We see ongoing partnerships between governments, local authorities such as Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) and DBKL, micromobility service providers such as Beam Mobility, and research groups such as the Micromobility Research Partnership (MRP), which have resulted in the safe introduction of over 3,500 shared e-scooters spread across Peninsular Malaysia.
Penang, a state with a decorated history of providing alternative modes of transport such as trams, trolleybuses, and ferry services would greatly benefit from better mobility. Residents and tourists alike can now easily access its rich UNESCO-certified heritage and unique cosmopolitan nature.
Kuching, Sarawak also has significant potential in this regard. The state has flown the flag of alternative energy and public transport options for more than a decade. It has introduced hydrogen buses and electric cars, and will soon see the introduction of an ART tram system and wider bus networks which are expected to amplify its rich heritage, history and culture, and tourism.
The successes, sustainability, health, and resilience of our great cities and interesting towns are hugely important, and better mobility can help with making that a reality. Let’s focus towards enacting effective changes at the street-level and use micromobility as a catalyst to tackle a key pain point that we’ve struggled so long with – first and last mile connectivity.
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