Electric Scooter vs. Public Transport

Electric scooters, public transport, and other modes of travel all have their pros and cons. There’s no right answer for everyone when it comes to choosing between them. Depending on what you need as a commuter, one choice might be better for you while another option might be best for someone else.

This article’s main goal is to show you how an electric scooter compares to other modes of transport, both advantageous and disadvantageous. By the end, we hoped we’ve been able to help you make a more informed decision on which type of traveling suits you the best.

Does an Electric Scooter Cost More Than Public Transport and other Modes of Traveling?

There are many choices for commuting today. From personal cars to sharing single-user mobility vehicles, you won’t really have a big problem going around the city. However, each mode of travel does cost different depending on how and how often you use it.

To help you get a clearer idea of the costs, here are some quick, general rundowns:

Quick Cost: Car

owning a car vs electric scooters

Personal cars remain the most favoured transport in Australia due to their comfort, convenience, and distance they can travel. However, it is also one of the most expensive choices.

On average, a typical Australian household shells out about $1,500 a month for transport costs, with more than half going to fuel, toll fees, and car loans. That’s about $18,000 in a year. Definitely not that cheap. 

But, of course, owning a car does have its pros and cons:

Pros of Owning a Car

  • Go on your own time (no waiting for bus or train schedules)
  • Free to go on any route you want
  • Ability to bring friends and family along

Cons of Owning a Car

  • Expensive upkeep
  • Traffic (that takes hours off your day)
  • Additional cost and hassle of parking

Quick Cost: Buses, Trains, and the Like

public transport vs electric scooters

 

Public transport remains to be the most affordable choice of moving around the city. Suppose you’re a regular commuter; then, you probably won’t be buying single trip tickets and will have a top-up card with marked down prices (either by paying for it annually or the like). 

Taking that into account, a typical public transport commuter might spend about $30-$60 per week, depending on the city you live in. On average, that would only amount to $360-$720 in a year. 

However, like the car, waiting for the bus, train, ferry, and the like will have their own pluses and minuses:

Pros of Using Public Transport

  • Easily among the most affordable choices
  • You can do other tasks while riding (such as emails, schoolwork, checking your phone)
  • Less traffic experienced than in personal cars

Cons of Using Public Transport

  • Will need to time your commute to the different schedules 
  • Can get crowded during rush hour
  • Might need to combine different types of public transport to get to your destination

Quick Cost: Ride Sharing

ride sharing vs electric scooters

 

Another type of commute that is quite popular nowadays is ride-sharing. There are two main types today: vehicle sharing and personal mobility sharing. 

Vehicle Sharing

Companies like Uber and DIDI act similarly to taxis, except they offer better door-to-door service and more convenient service through mobile apps. However, they are easily the most expensive type of ‘public’ transport on this list if you choose to use them for frequent, work-related commutes. 

Most ride-sharing companies have a general flag down rate plus an incurring fee per minute or kilometre of the ride. Let’s say that:

Flag Down rate = $2.50

Rate per minute = $0.50

Rate per km = $1.50

Suppose you live about 10 km away from work. A round-trip ride will cost you about $35/day, $175/work week, and $700/month. That’s approximately $8,400 in a year.

Personal Mobility Sharing

In recent years, some cities have also added smaller, more portable ride-sharing options. You can now rent bikes and electric scooters per ride and leave them on designated spots across the city. Some companies even offer promos when you buy subscriptions for lower rates and unlimited riding. 

There is a usual $1 flag down rate to unlock the scooter and make it move. Once you’re riding, a general rate of $0.40 per minute is charged. Supposed you’d be riding an e-scooter for 10 minutes round-trip every day to work. So that’s $10/day, $50/week, and $200/month. That will set you back $2,400 in a year.

Pros of Ride-Sharing

  • No parking needed
  • No maintenance costs
  • No money needed to buy the actual ride
  • Convenient through mobile apps
  • Good for short trips in bad weather (vehicle)
  • No need to worry about bringing on public transport (for last-mile scooter riding)

Cons of Ride-Sharing

  • You have to share (wait time, hygiene, awkward conversations - vehicle, etc.)
  • Surges in fees during peak hours (vehicle)
  • Not always good drivers (vehicle)
  • Scooter charge may not be enough to take you to your destination (e-scooter)
  • Poor ride quality, both in power and build (e-scooter)

Is It Worth It to Buy Your Own Electric Scooter?

owning an electric scooter

 

The great thing about electric scooters is that they come in varied price points. Even if you have a tight budget, the chances of you finding the perfect scooter for your needs are high. 

Scooter prices tend to go up as specs go up as well. Typically, the more powerful the scooter, the more expensive it is. However, you can find awesome and reliable picks from the $799 to $1,299 range. Indeed, many of the fan-favourite commuter scooters fall into this category. A big reason for this is because these scooters are affordable yet can still provide dependable daily performance.

For the sake of this article, let’s assume that you’ve chosen a $1,099 commuter scooter and that you want to get back the purchase cost you shelled out in 12 months. 

Then, you would also have to take into account the additional costs of owning an electric scooter. Don’t worry about a massive increase in your electricity bill. Conservatively, a full-charge cycle of your ride will probably amount to 23 cents. If your scooter requires full charging every day, that will be about $83 in a year. But, just to be safe, let’s assume that maintenance cost (for both charging, and regular care and repair) totals at $300.

Lastly, determine how often you will be riding. For this article, let’s say you’ll use the electric scooter every day to go to work. Subtract 4 weeks for your annual leave, assuming you won’t be commuting and using the scooter during this time.

Use this easy computation to find out your electric scooter riding expense in a week:

(Purchase cost + maintenance cost) divided by (total number of weeks in a year - 4 weeks of annual leave)

Given the situation above,

($1,099.00 + $300) divided by (52 - 4) = $29.15

With an average-priced commuter scooter, you can easily spend just as much as public transport costs per week. Of course, this will be even lower after the 12-month period as you’ve already taken back the initial purchase cost you shelled out.

Pros of Owning An Electric Scooter

  • You will always have it on-hand (no more waiting at e-scooter stops when it’s empty)
  • It can easily be stored in trunks or under desks (no more parking)
  • Better ride quality and range (vs. t[ypical shared electric scooters)
  • No sharing (definitely more hygienic as you have your own accessories & ride)
  • Low maintenance cost

Cons of Owning An Electric Scooter

  • If you get a bulky scooter, it can be a hassle in some stages of your commute
  • You’ll have to take the time for maintenance
  • You’ll have to remember to charge your scooter (every day for some)
  • It’s not advisable to ride in wet weather

Advantages of an Electric Scooter vs. Other Modes of Transport

Though the advantages and disadvantages of different modes of transport have been listed, it’s still a good idea to talk about them in detail.

Here are some pros that come with owning your own electric scooter.

Portability

When compared to traditional bicycles, electric scooters are more portable inasmuch as they are smaller in size and are foldable. They can easily be lifted so last-mile riding is no problem as you can bring them on buses and trains. 

An electric scooter has a more compact size means you can bring them indoors and leave them stored under your desk. Public parking, even bike parking stands, will no longer be a concern. 

Cost

There are three major costs to owning an electric scooter:

  • The one-time purchase of your scooter itself
  • Regular care and repair
  • Electricity bill

The first major cost wouldn’t be a problem in the long run. After purchasing the scooter and using it regularly, you’ll be able to make the expense worthwhile. Maintenance and electricity costs are different because they’ll be more regular.

The price of regular maintenance does not have to be expensive. As long as you ride responsibly, the only thing you’d need to worry about is keeping your scooter in tip-top shape. Tightening screws, pumping tyres, cleaning your ride are just some of the upkeep. Products needed for this are quite affordable. Major repairs that will need professional service are outliers since you wouldn’t necessarily need them all the time.

As for electricity, don’t worry. Even if you charge your scooter daily, the additional cost wouldn’t be drastically big. In fact, even with the increase in your electricity bill, the cost of owning an electric scooter is way cheaper than buying petrol for a car.

Convenience

Convenience isn’t just about parking and traffic. Sure, avoiding both of these are the most lauded reasons why riders choose scooters instead of bigger vehicles like cars. 

But electric scooters can also minimize the time you spend waiting in line for public transport. You can take the time to commute without worrying about bus schedules or delays. 

What’s more, you wouldn’t have to share. No more grimy helmet-wearing when you don’t know who wore it before you. No more worrying if there’s any scooter left in the nearest scooter stop. No more waiting for available drivers to pick you up. The biggest convenience of owning an electric scooter is that you can move at your own pace.

Sustainability

In terms of being environment-friendly, the most sustainable would still be traditional, manual rides like bicycles and manual kick scooters. However, if you compare electric scooters to petrol-fueled choices like cars and buses, they’d still be more energy-efficient. After all, they don’t emit carbon emissions.

If you’re looking for a ride that’s easy, less movement-driven, and less harmful to the planet, an electric scooter is definitely a good choice.

Disadvantages of an Electric Scooter vs. Other Modes of Transport

Of course, electric scooters also come with a few disadvantages. The good news is, there are ways to get around them.

Here are some cons to owning an electric scooter that you’ll need to keep in mind:

Easier to Steal

The downside of being highly portable is that your ride is also easier for pesky thieves to steal. Just like traditional bicycles, many electric scooters can be snatched straight from the street and ridden on if you leave them unattended.

Some e-scooters come with a key-lock ignition which makes it a bit harder to move (but not impossible). Determined robbers can still lift your scooter and run away with it.

Anti-Theft Solution

The good news is, this is a disadvantage with an easy solution. There are scooter accessories that can help keep your electric scooter safe and secure while unattended. The most common accessory for this is a scooter lock. There are different kinds of scooter locks (griplock, cable lock, U-lock, etc.) that will help keep your scooter in place while you do your errands.

Another good accessory to get is an anti-theft alarm. Once activated, the alarm will make a loud, persistent noise to alert you and passers-by that someone is attempting to take off with your scooter.  

Unclear Rules

Since electric scooters are relatively new so rules can vary depending on where you live. It is a bit of a hassle since you’re left unsure about many things. The best way to make up for this is to contact your local government. Ask them directly about the rules in your area so that you won’t be surprised with a penalty as you ride.

Electric Scooters: Where to ride them?

Again, this differs from city to city. Generally, however, city councils prefer that you ride your electric scooters on bike lanes on the road. This frees up the pavement for pedestrian use, and lessens the chances of accidents between scooter riders and walking people.

General Guidelines

While guidelines about electric scooter riding may be different depending on where you live, there are some rules that you should follow regardless. Some of these rules are:

  • Always wear a helmet while riding.
  • Keep your eyes on the road.
  • Stay within a responsible speed when near pedestrians.
  • Follow the general rules of traffic.

Not Advisable for Bad Weather

While most electric scooters come with high waterproof ratings, the truth of the matter is that they are still not 100% resistant to rain and puddles. Being electric machines, your electric scooters are still not equipped for wet conditions. 

That being said, an electric scooter might not be the best choice if you live in a place where it’s constantly raining, as it is inadvisable to ride your scooter during heavy rain and through deep puddles.

But if you’re living in a relatively dry area and you’re okay with using public transport from time to time, your scooter’s lack of waterproofing won’t be a huge problem.

Not as Eco-Friendly as Manual Rides

When it comes to fitness and eco-friendliness, manual rides like bicycles and kick scooters have an edge over electric scooters. Even walking is better for the environment and for your health. So, if you’re after working out, an electric scooter might not be the best pick.

However, for daily commuters, electric scooters will be able to help you reach your destination faster (than walking, at least), less sweaty, and less tired. So, it comes down to prioritising what you need more: exercise or convenience.

Is it better to own your own Electric Scooter than Public Transport or a Car?

Not necessarily. You have to take into account different factors. One example is if you need to drive your family around during the day. You won’t be able to do that on a scooter. 

Another example is your route. There are still many limitations to e-scooter riding on public spaces. The way to work might be riddled with obstacles that’ll make riding a hassle more than a benefit. 

At the same time, electric scooters can be good alternatives. They require less maintenance and less expense. They are more convenient in avoiding traffic and parking. They are also ridiculously fun!

You can also choose to ride your scooter only part-way. Last-mile riding is better for long-distance commuters. You can hop on a bus and train for the first part of your trip, and finish it on a scooter so that you can still avoid parking fees.

In the end, how advantageous an electric scooter is highly depends on your own needs and preferences. In our opinion? You'll love it!

 

Reference: Australian Automobile Association