Six companies to operate in Singapore under the new license regime

Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on september 28th that it will grant licenses to six operators of dockless bike-share services by the end of october (The measure was announced in march 2018). Full licenses have been granted to Ofo Mobike and SGBike, while Anywheel, Grab Cycle and Qiqi Zhixiang will get sandbox licenses, and will have to prove their quality and reliability in operations before being granted full licenses. Only one of the applicants, GBikes, will not get the precious sesame as it did not satisfy assessment criteria.  The six operators will be allowed to operate the following fleet sizes:

  • Mobike 25.000 bikes (currently more than 100.000)
  • ofo 25.000 bikes (currently around 80.000, the number they applied for)
  • SG Bike 3.000 bikes (currently 1.500)
  • Anywheel 1.000 bikes (currently 4.000, and applied for 30.000)
  • Grab 1.000 bikes
  • Qiqi 500

LTA will review the operator’s fleet sizes regularly, and operators are allowed to submit request to expand twice yearly. But in october, the total fleet size will drop from  around 200.000 bikes to 55.500! Meaning that for a steady ridership, numbers will have to raise from 1.1 ride/bike/day to 4r/b/d, the level of usage of successful dock-based schemes such as London or NYC where you can often experience shortages at some stations. I’m curious to see if it will have the same consequences, but it might be what LTA is waiting for, in order to define its optimal fleet size.

Operators will be evaluated on their capacity to operate the fleet, with a focus on bad parking behaviour management, usage rate, and maintenance quality. As parking and usage rate are deeply correlated, we are pointing once again to the optimal fleet size… Under the new license regime, firms must also 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. And you’d better not joke with the license requirements: infractions can lead “to 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 licence” LTA said.

One of the main actions taken by LTA is the QR code parking check. It will be implemented island wide by january 2019. Users will have have to scan a “Parking Zone” QR code in order to prove that you parked correctly: “Shared-bicycle users who do not park properly and fail to scan the QR code at designated parking spaces will be charged S$5 by licensed operators, and those who park indiscriminately at least three times yearly will be banned from using all bicycle-sharing services for up to a year”. The LTA will start a public education campaign from early October to teach shared-bike users how to end their trips with the QR codes, as well as carrying on increasing the number of bicycle parkings from 207k to 267k by 2020.

This QR code rule might impact the ridership, as the user experience will become longer and more inconvenient. Let’s hope not to see a modal share shift towards motorised vehicles.

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