Parliament: Government studying whether to go ahead with national bike share scheme

A bicycle from bicycle sharing company Obike, at a rental park next to an MRT train station in Singapore.
A bicycle from bicycle sharing company Obike, at a rental park next to an MRT train station in Singapore.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Government is assessing whether to go ahead with plans to launch the national bike sharing scheme by the end of this year, after the recent emergence of private companies offering similar services here.

Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng said this in Parliament on Wednesday  (March 8) during the debate on his ministry's Budget.

He was responding to questions from two MPs - Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC) - who both asked what the impact of these private companies was on the planned national bike-sharing scheme.

In the first two months of this year, two companies - ofo and Obike - have made thousands of bikes around the island available for rent. Both systems do not require users to return the machines at fixed stations - a standard feature of bike-share schemes worldwide. Instead, users unlock the bikes with their mobile phones and can return them at any bicycle parking area. Both companies have said they plan to expand rapidly.

The eventual fleet size of both players is projected to dwarf that of the Land Transport Authority's (LTA), which is slated to launch by the end of this year with about 2,330 bicycles in Jurong Lake District, Marina Bay, Tampines and Pasir Ris.

The LTA's scheme is expected to follow the traditional bike-share model, where users have to rent and return bikes at more than 210 specialised docking stations.

The LTA called a tender for its scheme last year but it has yet to be awarded.

Mr Ng told the House that the LTA was studying the bids carefully.

"We will also assess whether to proceed with our plans, and whether to extend them to other towns like Ang Mo Kio... given that ofo and Obike are already rolling out their services independently of LTA's tender," said Mr Ng.

He added that schemes offered by the private players offered advantages such as lower infrastructure costs and more convenience, but there was a potential downside of indiscriminate parking.

"It is still not clear yet whether these new systems or the traditional ones will work better for Singapore," he said.