Ofo faces possible $100,000 fine

Ofo was originally allowed to have 25,000 bicycles, but the operator had requested to reduce that to 10,000. Both LTA and ofo declined to reveal the actual size of the fleet.
Ofo was originally allowed to have 25,000 bicycles, but the operator had requested to reduce that to 10,000. Both LTA and ofo declined to reveal the actual size of the fleet.ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS CHONG

Bicycle-sharing operator has far more bikes than its 10k cap: LTA

Chinese bicycle-sharing operator ofo may well become the first company to be fined up to $100,000 for breaching a new fleet-size quota.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday it will proceed to take action against ofo, which still has a fleet size "significantly above" 25,000.

The LTA said last week the six operators granted operating licences here have been assigned a maximum fleet to ensure optimal usage.

In the quota move, the shared bicycle population in Singapore has been cut from more than 100,000 in September to 40,500 from Nov 1.

Ofo was originally allowed to have 25,000 bicycles, but the operator had requested to reduce that to 10,000.

The LTA said yesterday the China-based company still has a fleet size that is significantly above its maximum of 10,000 "or even the fleet size of 25,000 that LTA was originally prepared to grant".

The LTA, however, would not say how many excess bikes there were, saying ofo's fleet size is the subject matter of possible regulatory action against the operator.

It said that it had "accordingly given notice to ofo of our intention to take regulatory actions for the breach of this licence condition".

MORE TIME NEEDED

Ofo has been clear and transparent in our communications to the LTA that the additional right-sizing of our fleet to 10,000 bikes would require more time. We are confident to be fully compliant in the coming days.

MS ISABELLE NEO, ofo Singapore country manager.

In response, ofo Singapore country manager Isabelle Neo said: "Ofo has been clear and transparent in our communications to the LTA that the additional right-sizing of our fleet to 10,000 bikes would require more time.

"We are confident to be fully compliant in the coming days. It is disheartening to learn that a fine was so quickly imposed and towards only one operator. We hope that the LTA will consider giving us more time to do so."

Ofo would not reveal its fleet size either. But The Straits Times understands it had up to 70,000 bikes earlier this year.

According to the Parking Place Act, ofo could face a fine of up to $100,000 for its infringement.

An LTA spokesman said: "LTA strongly reminds all licensees and potential applicants to fully comply with all licence conditions and standards of performance."

A Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology study of about 10,000 bicycles over a week last year found that each was used for 30 minutes a day on average.

The study also showed that each bike was used on average to make between 0.62 and 1.64 trips a day - a low level of utilisation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2018, with the headline 'Ofo faces possible $100,000 fine'. Print Edition | Subscribe