BEIRUT: Very soon, you might start seeing orange e-scooters roaming around Beirut.
The company behind this idea is betting a large number of people will subscribe through its sharing application and try the newly introduced scooters. The scooters might contribute in small part to solving Lebanon’s inner-city traffic problem, the company hopes.
With Beirut acting as the testing hub for these eco-friendly rides, Parent-company LOOPShare aims to go globally with this service in stages.
At Loop’s soft launch Thursday at the Beirut Digital District, 15 of the scooters were available for a test drive. Two months from now, there will be 70 Loop scooters available for use throughout Beirut, facilitating transportation for commuters, students and tourists.
The concept is very easy to use. Users can download Loop application and subscribe to the service. Rides can then be booked immediately through the phone, and subscribers have 15 minutes to pick-up their scooter, or else, it will be available for the next user in line.
Loop scooters are unlocked through a PIN number and can be parked at dedicated docking stations. In order to subscribe, every user needs a copy of their ID and driving license.
Mira Raham, General Manager of Loop Lebanon told Annahar: “Loop is affordable for nearly everyone, and every 1 km costs 1,000 LBP,” adding that “everything related to hygiene is taken care of, and a bandana is available for everyone to wear under their helmet”. Insurance is also provided for the scooters.
She added: “The funding for the project, which amounted to 1.3 million dollars was provided by Berytech Fund”.
Loop aims to act as a solution for the traffic congestion problem in Beirut.“We wanted to adopt an eco-friendly solution for the traffic problem in Lebanon,” Raham said.
And the look of the sleek orange e-scooters verges on Pop art. Nisreen Sarkis from Wonder 8, the agency responsible for Loop's branding and the app design, said: “We chose orange to be the color of the scooters since it attracts people to know more about it."
Sarkis said the agency chose icons instead of words on the scooters since they wanted something that would be easily understood globally. “I think that the Lebanese will get used to it in a very short period of time,” she added.
120 people subscribed to Loop in an hour Thursday. Nibal Houry, an employee working in a company near Loop’s station, is one of them. “If you compare the scooter’s prices to taxis, you will find out that they are very affordable,” he told Annahar.
Habib Yehya is one of them. He plans to go to work by Loop from now on. He told Annahar: “I think that it’s a revolutionary idea that could be a solution to the traffic problem in Lebanon.”
He added: “I found out about this application through Facebook. I’m really interested in trying it because it is eco-friendly.”
According to a study by the American University of Beirut (AUB), 93 percent of Beirut’s population is being exposed to high levels of air pollution. According to the study, modes of transport were identified as the biggest contributors, exacerbated by all-day traffic jams and 100,000 additional new and used cars being sold in the country every year.
The report also mentioned that the average annual concentration of nitrogen dioxide, one of the harmful air pollutants, reached 58 micrograms per cubic meter in 2010, whereas the maximum allowable concentration according to WHO is 40 micrograms per cubic meter.
Another joint study by IPT Group, the Ministry of Environment, and UNDP concluded that the Lebanese transport sector causes a heavy environmental and economic burden on the government and the population: 4,350 Gg CO2 emissions in 2011, 1.5 million tons of fuel consumed and a chronic traffic congestion at every intersection inside Beirut and at the entry gates of the city.
Thus far Loop SAL is the first Zone Operator worldwide to deploy a fleet of shared electric scooters under the Loop brand and using our technology," said Anwar Sukkarie, president and CEO of Vancouver-based LOOPShare. "The initial fleet consists of 15 scooters and will grow by an additional 55 scooters in July 2017. These are exciting times for LOOPShare and for Loop SAL.”
Loop scooters can now be found in Beirut, and will soon be available for field-testing in a major east coast US city, Mexico City, Vancouver, and Okinawa, Japan.
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