SINGAPORE: The Quick Response (QR) code parking system for shared bikes will kick in from Jan 14 next year, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced on Thursday (Dec 27).
In a press release, the agency said bike-sharing users will have to make the additional step of scanning the QR code at designated parking areas to properly end their trips.
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Should they fail to do so, they will have to pay an additional S$5 each time and, after three strikes in a year, they will be banned from using all such services for a month.
These bans will also increase based on the frequency of the transgression: Users who fail to park and scan six times in 12 months will be banned for three months, while a nine-time offender will be banned for six months.
A year-long ban awaits those who flout the parking rule 12 times in a year, according to LTA.
"This is part of the new bicycle-sharing licensing regime to encourage responsible parking habits and manage the disamenities brought about by indiscriminate parking of shared bicycles," the agency said.
In the lead up to the implementation, some bike-share operators have added beta functionalities to help their users get comfortable with the new system, LTA added.
Local start-up SG Bike, for example, will launch this feature in its app from Friday but will not charge the S$5 fee for failing to park properly during this acclimatisation period.
During a demonstration of the new feature, SG Bike CTO David Lim shared how the app will send out an app alert if users scan the wrong QR code or try to park their bikes outside the designated area.
In the latter scenario, the notification would read: “Please unlock the bicycle within 10 minutes and park at a designated parking area or face additional S$5 hire fee.”
LTA had in September announced that full licences were granted to Ofo, Mobike and SG Bike, while sandbox licences were awarded to Anywheel, GrabCycle and Qiqi Zhixiang.
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Asked how the company has been faring since its launch in August 2017, SG Bike’s chief operating officer Sean Tay told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday that it is doing “much better” now than when it first started.
He said the start-up has about 3,000 bicycles in its fleet today, and the average daily usage rate is about 3,000 rides.
By comparison, daily usage at the start was "probably less than a couple of hundred" based on observation though it did not have the right equipment to track the metric then, Mr Tay added.
SG Bike’s experience appears more positive than what LTA had previously observed.
In the September announcement on awarding licences, the agency pointed out that the utilisation rate for shared bicycles in Singapore, which number more than 100,000, is low.
It said the average usage rate here is slightly more than one trip per day, which pales in comparison with that of cities like New York City and Chicago where each bicycle is used about three to six times a day.
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The bike-sharing industry continues to be in a nascent state and even big operators like Ofo and oBike are struggling.
China-based Ofo is facing calls for refunds from millions in China while founder Dai Wei was recently placed on a credit blacklist while contemplating declaring bankruptcy.
Its Singapore-registered rival oBike is in even worse shape. The company had in July appointed liquidators here as it folded its operations and caused a furore among its subscribers, who were trying to get their deposits back.
Police are also investigating it for misappropriation of funds after it came to light that oBike transferred S$10 million to its Hong Kong office before shutting shop in Singapore.