Scooti ride-sharing scooter service

Ride sharing collapse blamed on government

Scooti a victim of red tape

The Uber-syle Scooti scooter taxi service which started operations in Melbourne in April 2019 collapsed this year due to government red tape, says CEO Brett Balsters.

“Scooti battled for nearly a year in Victoria and again in NSW to convince the governments of its ability to operate safely and to ensure its compliance under the regulations,” he says, claiming they ran out of funding during the drawn-out process.

“The government ride-share regulators; Vic (Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria) and NSW (Point-to-Point Commission) mismanaged our applications and misled the company by setting the expectations that our application would be processed in a a few weeks,” he says.

One example of CPVV red tape included a prolonged review of a licence for a Scooti rider because he wore hearing aids.

“In a review process, it was pointed out that hearing aids corrected the issue in the same way that glasses do,” Brett says.

“It was stated that if they treated hearing disability like this they would also have to refuse anyone that wore glasses as having a visual disability. The refusal was overturned.

“A big victory for the hearing impaired but a waste of time for Scooti as the driver had become sick of waiting to onboard and left.”

“The CPVV attitude was to place motor scooter taxis in the too-hard basket. By stalling they ultimately made the business fragile and as conditions changed, Scooti could not survive.”

Scooti Motorcycle Taxi Service went into administration in February 2020.

Scooti peer-to-peer scooter taxi service
Scooti CEO Brett Balsters Left), with staff Eva Krane and Cameron Nadi

“Scooti’s unfortunate demise is a prime example of the governments’ placation of the taxi industry,” Brett says.

“The regulators tied Scooti up in bureaucratic knots, stalled and passed the application through so many departments that on many occasions Scooti’s CEO Brett Balsters would find himself re-introducing the company and explaining the Scooti concept to a new group of public servants.”

Brett says the unexpected delays forced the company to seek more funding to tide them over, but assures that they continued to pay employees during the prolonged application period as they expected a result “at any moment”.

“With no commitment on timeframes from either government, Scooti’s staff and management waited in limbo, unable to commit to a launch dates and yet ready to go,” he says.

Brett rebuts suggestions that staff were underpaid, saying that “every Scooti employee was paid above-award wages”.

However, he does not believe their failure will be the end in Australia of two-wheeled ride sharing which is thriving in some other countries.

Scooti ride-sharing scooter service
Scooti app

“Scooti’s service proved that there was a market for this faster form of public transport,” says Brett who believes a similar service will eventually succeed.

“Scooti’s passenger service helped commuters into and out of the built-up city areas. The Scooti service didn’t take up valuable parking spaces or taxi ranks and but kept the cities moving.

“Instead of assisting local business and encouraging more innovative public transport options, the governments’ focus gets distracted on the billion-dollar decade-long projects as the priority, while the taxpaying commuters are left staring at the red tail lights and traffic queues ahead.”

  1. Scooti came to me as a Local operator already operating rides business. I went through the same government maze trying to get the Harley Rides Industry approved as motorcycle taxis back in 1999. We managed, after long negotiations to get our bikes approved for roadside pick ups, similar to Hire Cars. I’m surprised that the bureaucracy didn’t just check their records of what was approved in the past. Had they done that – Scooti may have got off the ground.

    However, I doubt that Scooti would ever have been profitable. My experience trying to attract Taxi style business has proven to be very difficult. It only works under very specific conditions. If there are Taxis or Uber Cars available – that is what people will use. Beating traffic congestion? There are very few places this is an issue.

    For them to claim that they were defeated by Bureaucracy is I find laughable. Even if they had been able to get approval I doubt that it would ever have become viable or profitable. They probably had to borrow $millions that based on the demand out there would never be recouped.

    In my experience as a Harley Davidson JoyRides operator I can say that there just isn’t that much money in it. I take people out for Joyrides because I love what I do. If I was in it for the money – I wouldn’t be doing it. One has to have a secondary income to make it viable. I retired from that Army in 1996 and my superannuation gave me a pension – that my Harley Rides business supplements. Most of the riders I use are sub-contractors who have a day job and for the majority they only get two or three jobs from me in a year.

    Scooti? Big mistake from Day 1. It may sound like a great idea. The reality? There is not enough demand for it. Also, in Australia people have become conditioned to believe that getting on a motorcycle is dangerous. Hence most just won’t get on the back of a scooter. Most of my Harley Ride bookings are made by someone organising a surprise for a friend or relative. I’m in the business of converting people to understand everything they thought they knew about motorcycles is wrong. That only happens after they have had the experience. This is something Scooti failed to understand.

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