Just when you thought losing your $50 deposit to oBike was bad enough…
Less than a year after oBike abruptly left the bicycle-sharing market in Singapore, Mobike has now also applied to surrender its bicycle-sharing licence in Singapore. Ofo’s licence was also suspended last month, and was supposed to remove all its bicycles by Mar 13. It now seems that the good old days of bike-sharing in Singapore is now a thing of the past.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) confirmed Mobike’s withdrawal application on Mar 12. Mobike has also confirmed that it would pull out from some of the Asian countries in a bid to reconsider its next move forward. Don’t worry though — you might still get your money back. This application, when granted, means that Mobike must conduct a proper exit. This includes removing all its bicycles while providing refunds for user deposits and prepaid credits in accordance with the company’s terms and conditions.
So, now what?
With the three biggest bicycle-sharing companies set to bow out of Singapore, we face a drastic drop in the number of shared bicycles from over 100,000 at its peak last September to a measly 3,500 owned by SG Bike and Anywheel. This dramatic turn of events is surprising, considering the promising start earlier in 2017 (see here for the timeline of events for the bicycle-sharing industry).
This is happening even as we have slowly built up an infrastructure to support bicycle-sharing in Singapore — which begs the question: now what? Some are arguing for the inclusion of shared bicycles as public goods instead, which could solve the issues behind the high starting costs that affected private operators in the first place. It is probably for the better too if shared bicycles were public goods — I am pretty sure many people are going to be wary of putting a deposit into another private company anyway.