The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will be granting licences to six dockless bicycle-sharing operators (BSOs) – full licences to Mobike, ofo and SG Bike, and sandbox licences to Anywheel, Grabcycle and Qiqi Zhixiang – in end October 2018, following the payment of licence fees by the BSOs.
In a press release on Friday (28 September), LTA stated that it has evaluated the applications received from seven operators to operate dockless bicycle-sharing services in public places.
However, LTA sttaed that it will not grant a licence to the seventh applicant, GBikes, as it did not satisfy the assessment criteria, including criteria relating to the robustness of its proposed implementation plan.
While noting that bicycle-sharing services provide a convenient and healthy option for first-and-last-mile journeys, LTA said that rapid growth in the number of bicycles has also led to rampant indiscriminate parking of bicycles which creates safety issues and degrades the living environment.
Prior to the commencement of the licensing regime, BSOs 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.
According to the authority, LTA assessed each application based on a set of criteria, including the applicant’s ability to manage indiscriminate parking, fleet utilisation rate, financial strength, redistribution plans, overall demand for shared-bicycles and availability of parking spaces.
Where applicable, LTA noted that it also considered the track record of the applicants in managing cases of indiscriminate parking.
Following the grant of the licence, the authority stressed to the licensees that they are required to right-size their bicycle fleets to the approved fleet size.
LTA revealed that the present utilisation rate of the more than 100,000 shared bicycles in Singapore is low. 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.
"We will give operators sufficient time to right-size their fleets and transit to the new licensing regime", LTA noted.
To encourage innovation and reduce barriers to entry for new operators, LTA added that it is intending to grant sandbox licences to three operators with little or no experience in operating shared bicycles in Singapore.
"They will be granted a maximum fleet size of 1,000 and subject to a subset of the full licence requirements, so that they can learn how to manage their fleet responsibly before scaling up," LTA stated, adding that it will monitor their performance closely before determining whether to grant them full licences.
LTA said that it will also impose other key requirements, which include transmission of data to LTA, removal of indiscriminately parked bicycles and implementing QR code geo-fencing and ban on users who repeatedly park their shared bicycles indiscriminately.
Licenced operators that do not comply with licence conditions will face regulatory sanctions, which may include financial penalties of up to $100,000 for each non-compliance, reductions in fleet size, suspension or termination of their licences.
While, unlicensed operators can face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a jail term of up to six months, with a further fine of $500 for each day the offence continues after conviction.
LTA stressed that it will regularly review the fleet sizes, so that the population of shared bicycles supports user demand. 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 – minimising indiscriminate parking and maximising utilisation rate – will have the opportunity to grow their fleets. 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 2019.
On 25 June this year, oBike had abruptly announced its departure from the Singapore market before announcing its liquidation, leaving users who had deposited money with oBike for the usage of bikes unreturned.
oBike said its decision to cease operation in Singapore was as a result of difficulties foreseen to be experienced to fulfill the new requirements and guidelines released by LTA towards dock-less bike sharing in Singapore.