LTA’s bike-sharing scheme shelved as private players enter market

KELLY NG Today Online 24 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — Plans for a government-funded bike-sharing system in Jurong Lake District have been scrapped amid the recent influx of private operators.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it decided not to award a tender for a 1,000-bike system it called in July last year, given that these private operators have plans to roll out “many thousands” of bicycles to more locations in the next year or two.

“The ongoing plans by the private dockless bicycle-sharing system operators have obviated the need for a Government-run system backed by Government grants,” it said in a press release. “LTA will continue to monitor developments in the bicycle-sharing landscape, and introduce new plans if necessary.”

The tender to build, own, operate and maintain the system with 100 docking stations closed in December last year with 13 bids from local and foreign entities proposing both docked and dockless systems, the LTA revealed on Friday. Their price proposals will be unopened, it added.

Since the beginning of this year, fully privately-funded dockless bicycle-sharing services have sprouted here.

ofo and Mobike — both players headquartered in China — and homegrown firm oBike are among the firms to offer stationless bike-sharing models.

Riders can unlock Mobike and oBike bikes using QR codes on their respective mobile apps, while ofo sends users a unique four-digit code once they have booked their rides.

oBike’s vehicles can be rented at S$1 for 30 minutes, while ofo bikes are available at S$0.50 per trip. Mobike, which officially launched on Tuesday, is offering a promotional rental rate of 50 cents for 30 minutes’ use — half the standard rate. The firm was unable to say when the promotion will end.

In its release, the LTA also cautioned riders against indiscriminate parking of bicycles, and encouraged operators to “put in place penalties and incentives” to encourage proper behaviour.

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, it added.

“(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,” the LTA said.

A bike-sharing pilot was first mooted in 2013 to support the Government’s vision to improve first-and-last-mile connectivity and encourage cycling for short trips.

Jurong Lake District was chosen for the pilot because it is set to be re-developed into Singapore’s second Central Business District. Just last year, the Government also said it was mulling expanding the scheme to Tampines-Pasir Ris, as well as Marina Bay with the city centre.

National bicycle-sharing scheme scrapped
Channel NewsAsia 24 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: A national self-service bicycle-sharing scheme which was slated to be piloted in the Jurong Lake District by the end of this year has been scrapped, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Friday (Mar 24).

In a media release, LTA said it reassessed its bicycle-sharing plans after several privately funded dockless bicycle-sharing services emerged in Singapore since the beginning of 2017. These operators include local start-up oBike as well as China-based firms Ofo and Mobike.

“The ongoing plans by the private dockless bicycle-sharing system operators have obviated the need for a Government-run system backed by Government grants. The price proposals submitted by all 13 participants of the tender will be unopened,” LTA said.

Earlier this month, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng during the Committee of Supply debate had said that Transport Ministry is assessing the bids tendered for the bicycle-sharing service in Jurong Lake District "carefully".

LTA had put out a tender to appoint an operator for the pilot bicycle-sharing scheme in July last year, with options to bid to operate a bicycle-sharing scheme in the Marina Bay/City Centre area, as well as Tampines and Pasir Ris. The tender closed in December 2016 and attracted a total of 13 bids from local and foreign participants, LTA said, adding that the proposals were a mix of both docked and dockless bicycle-sharing systems.

LTA added that it will continue to monitor developments in the bicycle-sharing landscape and introduce new plans “if necessary”.

- CNA/dl

Major issues with bike-sharing apps
Isabelle Liew, The New Paper AsiaOne 24 Mar 17;

Two days after its formal launch in Singapore, Chinese-owned bike-sharing app Mobike still has some major issues to iron out.

The New Paper tried the three bike-sharing platforms - Mobike, ofo and oBike over two days.

Eight out of 10 times, those who tried Mobike could not find the bicycle.

The team combed areas like Tampines, Clarke Quay, Bras Basah and Kallang, and while the app indicated the bikes were at spaces like MRT stations and along pavements, they would be missing from these locations, even after a "reservation" had been made on the app.

Some of the bike icons on the app would even indicate the bicycles were inside private residences, hospitals, storerooms and construction areas.

Although the TNP team managed to find a Mobike at Tampines and Kallang Leisure Park, the bike icon on the app showed it was a distance away from where the two bicycles were supposed to be located.

Mobike uses a dockless bike-share system and users can unlock its bicycles by scanning a QR code on it.

Each bicycle comes with a proprietary "smart lock" containing GPS technology.

In response to TNP queries, Mr Florian Bohnert, head of international expansion at Mobike, said: "If the bike icons are not showing up correctly, we advise users to look around their surroundings and across the streets to locate the bikes, as the marker on the map may be affected by the surrounding environment such as buildings and other possible obstructions affecting the accuracy of the GPS signal on the map view."

A spokesman said the company has more than a million bikes in operation. As it can monitor the location and health of Mobikes in real time, "the number of bikes that are lost or damaged is negligible".

He added: "When necessary we can intervene, for example when a bike is damaged or parked in an unsuitable location."

Mobike had a team studying the local market to prepare for its launch from last October and have ramped up the deployment since Tuesday's launch.

There were similar struggles with China-based ofo, which does not use a GPS system. Users would have to find a bike and enter the bike number in the app.

It will return a combination code which can be used to release the lock on the bike.

The New Paper team searched various MRT stations from the heartlands to the CBD area, parks and Housing Board void decks, but none of ofo's bright yellow bikes were spotted.

Based on the team's two-day mission, local venture oBike seems to have the least issues.

Bicycles from oBike could easily be found, with many parked at various MRT stations.

Unlike Mobike, oBike tracks its bicycles through the GPS system on the user's app, and a bicycle was found at the first attempt, near the McDonald's outlet at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

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