Back in February, we covered local bike sharing startup oBike as they quietly rolled out their services.
That was merely a trial as in a press event today, oBike General Manager Elgin Ee announced the official launch of the company, along with some improvements to their app.
oBike To Begin Full Operations In Tampines
Partnering with Tampines Town Council, oBike is bringing its bike-sharing services to residents in that area.
With this collaboration, they have the full support of Singapore’s most bike-friendly estate as they iron out the details with authorities to bring bike-sharing into the heartlands.
Tampines residents can look forward to the wonders of bike-sharing near the end of April – oBike’s targeted service operation date in the area.
Incentives residents can take advantage of includes free rides for a full month as part of year-long pilot program, something which both oBike and the Tampines Town Council hope to take advantage of to encourage the uptake of bicycle-sharing among residents.
Welcomed Additions To The App
With the official launch of oBike, Mr Ee also updated the media on some improvements the startup has made to the app to improve the users’ bike-sharing experience, which will go live in a later update on 20 April.
First is the “bike parking location indicators”. These are basically designated areas where you will be able to pickup or park the oBike you rented.
These areas also include seven new locations marked as bicycle parking zones as announced by the Land Transport Authority at the end of March.
By making these places more visible through the app, it will raise awareness to users on where they should be parking their oBikes to make it more convenient for them to return the bicycles, as well as encourage responsible user behaviour.
Next is oBike’s all new Credits system which is separated into two categories – Negative Behaviour and Good Behaviour.
Before that, the first thing that everyone should know is that all users will have the same 100 points at the start. Your points will either go up or down depending on how responsibly you use oBikes.
First, the Bad Behaviour.
To emphasise the importance of responsible oBike behaviour, the points system is designed to punish errant users from the get-go. Smaller offences mentioned are parking at non-designated areas and forgetting to lock the bike will get you a 20 points penalty.
More serious offences, though, will see your points go to zero straight away.
These offences include major ones such as traffic offences, putting a private lock on the oBikes, losing an oBike, and moving oBikes illegally.
Then of course, there’s the Good Behaviour to reward those who abide by the service’s terms and conditions.
You can get points by simply completing a ride, inviting friends to sign up, using a friend code, and sharing your ride on Facebook.
Get additional points by helping oBike too – if you see a broken oBike or one that is parked illegally and outside a designated zone, take a photo and report it to oBike.
So how does all that add up? Well, your behaviour affects the cost in which you can rent an oBike.
From 80 points to 180 points, you will be renting an oBike at the default $0.50 per 15 minutes. oBike plans to announce rewards for power users who have more than 180 points.
When your points dip below 80, though, is when things will get pricey.
If you have 60 to 79 points, the cost of an oBike will set you back $5 per 15 minutes of use. Hit below 60 points and you will have to pay 10 times as much as it costs $50 for 15 minutes on an oBike.
Plans To Reach Out To More Heartland Areas
oBike is of course not just stopping at Tampines. They are also currently in discussion with the Town Councils of other estates to potentially bring their service to other areas in Singapore.
That’s where oBike is confident that they have the differentiating factor as compared to competitors ofo and Mobike.
Unlike the other two, oBike is a homegrown startup and thus in a better position to work with local authorities to integrate their services into existing infrastructure.
That’s not to say either that town councils are oBike-exclusive. They, along with any other areas in Singapore, are welcomed to include one or all the bike-sharing companies in any given location.
Mr Ee also shares that oBike’s primary aim right now is to promote bike-sharing as not just a feasible alternative transportation for the first and last mile of travel, but at the same time, encourage a healthier lifestyle.
While having three bike-sharing companies may sound like a lot, it’s a step that is in line with the government’s initiative to create a car-lite Singapore.