SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Friday (Sep 28) it will award licences to six bicycle-sharing operators at the end of next month, albeit at limited fleet sizes.
Full licences have been granted to ofo, Mobike and SG Bike, and sandbox licences to Anywheel, Grabcycle and Qiqi Zhixiang. These licences will be awarded at the end of October, after the payment of licence fees by the operators.
The application of a seventh operator, GBikes, was rejected because it did not satisfy certain assessment criteria, LTA said.
The applications were assessed based on a set of criteria, including the operator’s ability to manage indiscriminate parking, fleet utilisation rate, financial strength, redistribution plans, overall demand for shared-bicycles and availability of parking spaces, said the LTA.
Where applicable, LTA also considered the track record of the applicants in managing cases of indiscriminate parking.
Companies that had operated a dockless bicycle-sharing service in Singapore for at least six months under a memorandum of understanding with the LTA were eligible to apply for a full licence.
Those with "little or no experience" operating shared bicycles in Singapore were granted sandbox licences instead.
“While bicycle-sharing services provide a convenient and healthy option for first-and-last-mile journeys, rapid growth in the number of bicycles has also led to rampant indiscriminate parking of bicycles which creates safety issues and degrades our living environment,” said LTA in a media statement.
“Prior to the commencement of the licensing regime, BSOs (bicycle-sharing operators) expanded their fleets aggressively to gain market share. The licensing regime is intended to address these issues and ensure that BSOs operate in a responsible manner, and make considerate and efficient use of limited public spaces.”
LIMITED FLEET SIZE
Under the new licensing scheme, ofo and Mobike will be allowed to operate a maximum fleet of 25,000 bicycles each, while SGBike will be allowed to operate up to 3,000 bicycles.
Channel NewsAsia understands that ofo had submitted an application to operate a fleet of 80,000 bikes in Singapore.
Operating under a sandbox licence, Anywheel as well as Grabcycle will be allowed to operate a maximum of 1,000 bicycles each, while Qiqi Zhixiang will be permitted to operate a fleet of 500.
Operators granted the sandbox licence will be subject to a subset of the full licence requirements, so that they can “learn how to manage their fleet responsibly before scaling up”, said the LTA. Their performances will be monitored before LTA determines whether to grant them full licences.
Licensed operators can submit applications to expand their fleet sizes twice a year – in January and July. “Responsible licensees” that are able to manage their fleets effectively will be given the opportunity to grow their fleets, said LTA.
New operators that intend to provide bicycle-sharing or personal mobility device-sharing (PMD-sharing) services in Singapore may apply for a licence in January next year.
LOW UTILISATION RATE
LTA also said in its release that the current utilisation rate for shared bicycles in Singapore - which number more than 100,000 - is low.
“The average utilisation rate for the entire shared bicycle population is slightly more than one trip per day. However, about half of the population is not actively used. This is much lower than the utilisation rates in other cities such as New York City and Chicago, where each shared bicycle is used about three to six times a day," LTA said.
“We will give operators sufficient time to right-size their fleets and transit to the new licencing regime,” it added.
Under the new licencing regime, approved operators that do not comply with licence conditions will face regulatory sanctions, which may include financial penalties of up to S$100,000 for each non-compliance, reductions in fleet size, suspension or termination of their licences, added the LTA.
Unlicensed operators may face a fine of up to S$10,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months, with a further fine of S$500 for each day the offence continues after conviction.
As part of the new licensing requirements, a Quick-Response (QR) code parking system for shared shared bicycles will be implemented next year to ensure users do not park indiscriminately, the LTA announced on Tuesday.
Those who fail to park properly and scan the QR code will be charged S$5 by licensed operators while users who park indiscriminately three times in one year will be banned from using all bicycle-sharing services for up to a year.
Both the QR code parking system and the ban on errant users will begin in January next year.