Six companies granted licences to operate bike-sharing services in Singapore

The licences will be granted by the end of October, the Land Transport Authority announced on Sept 28, 2018. ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS CHONG

SINGAPORE - Six companies will be granted licences to operate dockless bike-sharing services, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Friday (Sept 28).

Chinese firms Mobike and ofo and Singapore-based SG Bike have been granted full licences while Anywheel, GrabCycle and Qiqi Zhixiang have been granted a sandbox licence.

This is aimed at firms without a sufficiently long track record in operating a bike-sharing service. It allows them to operate a fleet size of no more than 1,000 bikes.

By contrast, Mobike and ofo have each been granted approval to operate a fleet of 25,000 bicycle while SG Bike can have up to 3,000 two-wheelers.

The LTA will monitor the performances of the three "sandbox" firms before determining whether to grant them full licences.

Anywheel and GrabCycle will each be allowed a fleet of 1,000 bicycles while Qiqi Zhixiang can have up to 500.

The licences will be granted by the end of October. GBikes, another firm that applied, will not be granted the licence as it did not satisfy assessment criteria.

Earlier this year, oBike and ShareBikeSG ceased operations, citing difficulties complying with the new regime.

The LTA said bike-sharing operators had previously expanded their fleets aggressively to gain market share, which led to "rampant indiscriminate parking of bicycles".

"The licensing regime is intended to address these issues and ensure that bike-sharing operators operate in a responsible manner, and make considerate and efficient use of limited public spaces," it noted on Friday.

It added that applications were assessed based on criteria such as the firm's ability to manage indiscriminate parking, fleet utilisation rates as well as the overall demand for shared bicycles.

Under the new regime, firms must provide the LTA with data such as the locations of all stationary bikes to allow for better parking management as well as anonymous trip route information to help plan bicycle infrastructure.

Other requirements include the removal of indiscriminately parked bikes, implementing QR code geofencing and banning users who repeatedly park their shared bicycles indiscriminately.

It was previously reported that firms will also have to pay $60 for each bike deployed, in addition to a one-time application fee of $1,500.

"Licensed operators that do not comply with licence conditions will face regulatory sanctions, which may include financial penalties of up to $100,000 for each non-compliance, reductions in fleet size, suspension or termination of their licences," said the LTA.

It added that unlicensed operators can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to six months, with a further fine of $500 for each day it continues to operate after conviction.

The rule revamp will see the number of shared bikes - now between 100,000 and 200,000 bikes - drop significantly.

The LTA noted that a shared bike is used on average once a day, although about half of them are not actively used.

This is much lower than the utilisation rates in other cities such as New York City and Chicago, where each shared bicycle is used about three to six times a day.

Firms that have fleets that exceed the allowed amount will get time to transition to the new system.

Fleet sizes will be regularly reviewed to support demand, and licensed operators can apply to expand their fleets twice a year in January and July.

"Responsible licensees that are able to manage their fleets effectively - minimising indiscriminate parking and maximising utilisation rate - will have the opportunity to grow their fleets," said the LTA.

New operators that intend to provide bicycle-sharing or personal mobility device-sharing services can apply for a licence in January.

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