Fewer shared bicycles as LTA licensing regime kicks in on 1 Nov

Ofo shared bicycles in Singapore. The China-based company will operate 10,000 bicycles after receiving its licence from LTA. (PHOTO: Reuters/Edgar Su/File Photo)

From Thursday (1 November), there will be fewer shared bicycles in Singapore, as operators downsize their fleets upon receiving their licences from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Six bike-sharing firms were granted licences, and they will have a total of 40,500 bicycles to operate in Singapore. This is less than half of the estimated over-100,000 shared bicycles in operation before the licensing regime was announced earlier this year.

Three operators – Mobike, Ofo and SG Bikes – have full licences, meaning they have to pay S$60 per bicycle in operation, of which S$30 is the annual licence fee and S$30 is for a two-year refundable security deposit.

Mobike will operate 25,000 bicycles, while Ofo will operate 10,000. Singapore’s SG Bikes will operate 3,000.

The other three operators – Anywheel, Grab Cycle and Qiqi Zhixiang – were granted “sandbox licences”,  which limits them to smaller fleets. However, they need to fork out only S$12 per bicycle annually in licensing fee without additional security bond.

Anywheel and Grab will have 1,000 bikes each, and Qiqi Zhixiang will have 500. Full licenses are valid for two years, while sandbox licenses have to be renewed every year.

Ofo is the only firm which did not accept the maximum fleet size granted to them. LTA said in a media release on Monday that Ofo was originally allowed to have a fleet of 25,000 bicycles, which was “much lower” than what it had applied for.

It added that the China-based firm subsequently informed the authority this month that it had difficulties meeting its financial obligations under the licensing scheme for 25,000 bikes, and had made the request to LTA to cut down its fleet to 10,000.

“Under the new licensing regime, all licensees are required to reduce their fleet size to meet their assigned maximum fleet sizes by Nov 1,” the LTA said, adding that it will “regularly review the fleet sizes, taking into account factors such as the operators’ performance and user demand”.

All six bike-sharing firms have paid for their licences. They were granted their operating permits on 28 September, and will have to meet their new fleet size by Thursday.

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