Commuters will be able to continue using bicycles from bike-sharing firm Mobike, even as the Chinese firm leaves the Singapore market.
Local bicycle-sharing start-up SG Bike has inked a $2.54 million deal to take over Mobike's licence to operate 25,000 shared bikes, which will make it the biggest operator here.
The deal, if approved by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), is expected to let commuters unlock Mobike's bicycles with SG Bike's app by Sept 13.
Mobike is currently the biggest of four bike-sharing firms in Singapore. SG Bike has a licence to operate 3,000 bicycles while another local start-up, Anywheel, is allowed to run 10,000 bikes.
Moov Mobility is the smallest player with a sandbox licence to operate 1,000 bikes.
If the Mobike-SG Bike deal goes through, the total number of shared bikes in Singapore would remain at around 39,000. The two operators said in a statement yesterday that they have submitted an application to the LTA to approve the transfer of Mobike's licence.
SG Bike chief operating officer Sean Tay said: "With the increased bicycle fleet size, SG Bike will now be able to serve more areas in Singapore. Bicycles will also be strategically deployed to ensure availability."
SG Bike operates mainly in Yishun, Tampines and the East Coast Park area. It said it will look to concentrating the deployment of the expanded fleet of 28,000 in several towns.
Existing Mobike users will be unable to use Mobike's app to unlock bikes from Sept 13.
However, they will be able to transfer their account balances and ride passes to SG Bike by downloading the latter's app.
Those who still have deposits with Mobike can ask for refunds or have the deposit converted into SG Bike account credits.
According to an announcement filed on the Singapore Exchange last Friday by SG Bike's majority shareholder ISOTeam, SG Bike has agreed to repay Mobike's user deposits and prepayments to the tune of about $2 million.
Mobike, which is owned by Chinese food-delivery company Meituan Dianping, submitted a proposal to the LTA in March for a "managed and orderly withdrawal" from the Singapore market.
The LTA said it would work with Mobike to ensure that all options have been fully explored, including Mobike's proposal to transfer its existing assets or operations to current licensees, in order to minimise the impact on consumers.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport and an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said the continued availability of bike-sharing options was a good development for commuters.
But he said that the ideal solution would be for transport options to be brought together to give commuters an integrated package.
If such point-to-point or last-mile transport options can be combined, Mr Ang said, "commuters will have seamless journeys and it will be more efficient for operators". "This can be done in the form of a season pass or a bundled package for trains, buses, taxis, shared bikes and shared e-scooter services."