On 25 June, popular bike-sharing service, oBike, announced that they had decided to end their operations in Singapore.
The service cited issues meeting the requirements and guidelines placed upon them by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
In March this year, the Parking Places (Amendment) Bill was put in place to help stop people from parking their shared bicycles anywhere they wished to.
With this bill, shared bike operators would have to apply for a license with the LTA to regulate geofencing technology, bike fleet sizes and would have to facilitate the removal of illegally parked bicycles within a certain period of time.
Operators would also have to pay a license fee and for every act of non-compliance by their users, they would be charged up to S$100,000.
This proved to be too difficult for oBike and they decided to cease operations in Singapore. The company is still operating in countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany, UK and more.
In a statement made by the company, they said:
oBike strongly believes and is committed to provide dock-less bicycle sharing services that would benefit users’ commuting and Singapore’s transportation system, however it is with regret that the new regulation measures do not favor this belief of ours
Read the full statement below:
In the statement, oBike assured users that they would still be able to use their bikes through GrabCycle, another bike sharing service. However, a Grab spokesperson clarified that they would no longer be able to put oBike’s bicycles on GrabCycle as they do not have the correct licences to operate in Singapore.
This is also not the first time oBike has pulled out of a city. The company also pulled out of Melbourne earlier this month after rules were put in place to curb indiscriminate parking and the company could not comply with the rules. Australian users also struggled to get their deposits back.
This has caused panic amongst Singapore’s oBike users as many are unable to get their own deposits back.
In order to use the bikes by oBike, the company requires users to put in $49 as a deposit to ensure responsible riding and treatment of the bikes. This amount is refundable should the user decide to stop using their services.
However, after the company announced their departure, many users found that the refund page could not be loaded or accessed. In fact, many noticed that their deposits had, without their knowledge, been converted into long-term subscriptions which enabled them to use oBikes in other countries where they were operating.
There was also confusion as to who would be responsible for removing bicycles from oBike which are currently still all around the island.
However, LTA released a full statement that was published in TODAY regarding oBike’s departure and the refunds. LTA encouraged users who were unable to obtain their refunds to contact CASE. They also added that they would be contacting oBike and working with them to remove their shared bicycles from public places.
This is the full statement:
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) was informed this morning of oBike’s intention to cease bike-sharing operations in Singapore. LTA will be engaging oBike on their exit plans, including the removal of shared bicycles from public places.
It is a requirement under the Parking Places Act that all bicycle sharing operators (BSOs) must obtain a licence from LTA to operate in Singapore. The purpose of these stronger regulations is to ensure that bicycle-sharing services are operated in a manner that is sustainable and socially responsible, and to firmly address the issue of indiscriminate bicycle parking. The regulations were put in place after extensive consultation with the bicycle sharing industry, including oBike, over four months. Licence applications opened on May 8 and will close on July 7.
Affected consumers should make a request for the refund of their deposits or subscription fees with oBike if they have not already done so.
Those facing difficulties getting their refunds from oBike may wish to approach CASE through the following channels:
CASE Hotline – 61000315 (Operating hours: 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays)
CASE Office – 170 Ghim Moh Road, Ulu Pandan Community Building, #05-01, Singapore 279621 (Operating hours: 9am to 4pm, Mondays to Saturdays)
CASE Online Submission: https://www.case.org.sg/complaint_onlinecomplaint.aspx
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