BlueSG cars damaged weeks after launch
Observers wonder if Singaporeans are civic-minded enough to share vehicles
While it was announced yesterday that electric car-sharing service BlueSG had chalked up more than 3,300 sign-ups and 5,000 rentals at the end of last year, there have been bumps in the road.
Images of damaged BlueSG cars, 80 of which were launched on Dec 12, have started appearing online.
On Sunday, Facebook user Minghui Ming uploaded photos of a dented BlueSG car with a broken front number plate on community page SG Road Vigilante.
Another BlueSG car is seen with a black scrape on the left of its front bumper. A close-up of the car shows "hey faulty!!!" scrawled on the dust on it.
On the same day on Facebook community page Singapore Taxi Driver, user Paul Chua uploaded pictures of a BlueSG car being towed off from what appears to be a petrol station.
A spokesman for BlueSG told The New Paper that there are only a "handful" of cases of their cars being accidentally damaged and the number of those that need repairs is a "fraction" of this.
He declined to release figures of the number of accidents and cars that have been towed away or repaired.
"As far as we are aware, there is only one car with a broken car plate.
"For cars not being able to turn on, after investigation, most cases were drivers not realising the cars were already turned on as the car is totally silent," he said.
BlueSG managing director Franck Vitte said he was "very encouraged and heartened by the overwhelming response" to their service.
"We are looking at quickly deploying more stations island wide as requested by a high number of Singapore residents," he added.
BlueSG, a subsidiary of French transportation company Bollore Group, has said it wants to expand its fleet to 1,000 electric vehicles and install 2,000 charging points by 2020.
That would make BlueSG the world's second biggest electric car-sharing scheme after the one in Paris, which has more than 4,000 cars.
Notwithstanding the company's plans for expansion here, observers wonder if Singaporeans are ready to share vehicles.
A lot of times, people do not see these items as belonging to them, so they abuse or misuse them.Psychiatrist lim Boon leng
This was a point raised by Nanyang Technological University senior transport research consultant Gopinath Menon and bike-sharing company oBike.
An oBike spokesman told TNP that the sharing economy is still "in its infancy in Singapore" and the company is taking a long-term approach to inculcate civic-mindedness among its users.
Ultimately, it all comes down to a sense of responsibility, or a lack of it, as evident by the photographs and reports of damaged BlueSG cars and the shared bicycles of companies like oBike, ofo and Mobike.
"A lot of times, people do not see these items as belonging to them, so they abuse or misuse them," psychiatrist Lim Boon Leng told TNP.
National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser added that while most people here are civic-minded, there is a small group of people who are not.
But Dr William Wan, general secretary of Singapore Kindness Movement, said generalisations based on a few examples of bad shared-vehicle behaviour should be avoided.
Instead, education about proper user etiquette is needed.
"It is always easy to focus on the negatives, but it would be good to think that most Singaporeans would respect the shared services and would be responsible users," he said.