Just three days after the launch of Mobike, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Friday (March 24) that it’s pulling the plug on the national bicycle-sharing initiative, which was slated to be piloted at the end of this year.
The LTA had called a tender in July 2016 for an operator to build, own, operate and maintain a bicycle-sharing system in Jurong Lake District.
To defray part of the costs, tenderers could bid for grants from LTA.
The tender closed in December 2016 and attracted a total of 13 bids from local and foreign participants, receiving proposals that were a mix of both docked and dockless bicycle-sharing systems.
In its media statement, LTA did not elaborate much on its reasons to scrap the initiative and simply shared that since the beginning of this year, “several fully private-funded dockless bicycle-sharing services have emerged in Singapore”.
Particularly, three bike-sharing companies – local venture oBike, as well as China-based ofo and Mobike – have set up shop in Singapore within the first three months of the year.
This prompted LTA to “reassess” its bicycle-sharing plans, and they have since come to a decision to not award the Jurong Lake District bicycle-sharing tender.
The price proposals submitted by all 13 participants of the tender will remain unopened.
Overlap Of Interests
Since the national initiative aims to improve first-and-last mile connectivity and encourage cycling for short trips, we figured that the scrap was probably due to an overlap of interests.
This is because the three bike-sharing startups in Singapore also aim to encourage bicycle-commuting among Singaporeans.
Additionally, since these private operators have plans to roll out “many thousands” of bicycles to more locations in the next year or two, it would be redundant for LTA to award the tender for a 1,000-bike system.
On that note, LTA said that “the ongoing plans by the private dockless bicycle-sharing system operators have obviated the need for a government-run system backed by government grants.”
Keeping A Close Eye On The Bike-Sharing Landscape
Although the initiative has been called off, LTA said that it will continue to monitor developments in the bicycle-sharing landscape, and introduce new plans if necessary.
It also cautioned riders against indiscriminate parking of bicycles, and encouraged operators to “put in place penalties and incentives” to encourage proper behaviour.
Recently, there has been a spate of complaints from the general public regarding the parking issue. Apparently, the public parking racks are not meant for use by rental bikes, which prompted the Town Council to put up removal notices.
The Government will also take action against indiscriminately parked bikes, such as by impounding the vehicles and imposing “heavy fines” on operators or the culprits involved, said LTA.
“(Operators) should remove any indiscriminately parked bicycles or derelict bicycles expeditiously, whenever alerted by the public or any government agencies. Strict enforcement action will be taken against all indiscriminately parked bicycles,” it added.
Featured Image Credit: ofo