HelloRide chosen as third bicycle-sharing operator in Singapore

A cyclist rides past bicycles of bike-sharing services parked on the street near a subway station in Beijing, China. (Reuters file photo)
A cyclist rides past bicycles of bike-sharing services parked on the street near a subway station in Beijing, China. (Reuters file photo)

SINGAPORE — The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded a one-year licence to Shanghai-based bike-sharing operator HelloRide, allowing it to run a fleet of up to 1,000 bicycles in Singapore.

The operator was awarded a Type 2 "sandbox" licence, valid for up to one year, after which it will have to apply for a Type 1 full licence to operate with a larger fleet of bicycles, LTA said in a news release on Friday (1 July).

"When evaluating applications, LTA will consider factors such as the applicant’s track record, and ability to manage indiscriminate parking and ensure healthy fleet utilisation," it added.

This makes HelloRide the third bicycle-sharing operator in Singapore, after Anywheel and SG Bike, both of which have Type 1 full licences. With LTA’s latest announcement, there are 36,000 bikes across the three operators.

The bike-sharing industry took a hit when several operators exited the market, following tighter regulations introduced by authorities in 2018 to tackle indiscriminate parking by users.

The Parking Places (Amendment) Bill passed in March of that year meant that operators had to apply for a licence, subject to regulatory requirements such as limitations on fleet size, and mandatory integration of LTA's geofencing QR code parking system.

The move had cut the number of shared bicycles in public places by half, from over 100,000 before the introduction of the regime.

One of the operators affected was oBike, which cited the 2018 regulations on the industry as a reason for its exit from Singapore.

In 2019, Alibaba-backed bike-sharing firm ofo had its operating licence suspended and later cancelled, amid cash flow problems. Mobike, owned by Chinese food delivery company Meituan Dianping, also exited Singapore in the same year.

The exit of the three operators left thousands of cycles in "graveyards".

According to LTA, more than 90 per cent of shared bicycle users end their trips at designated parking areas since the introduction of the QR code parking system and user ban rules in January 2019.

Operators who fail to comply with licence conditions face fines of up to $100,000 for each act of non-compliance, reductions in fleet size, and suspension or termination of licences.

Unlicensed operators face a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to six months’ jail, or both, with a further fine of $500 per day the offence continues after conviction.

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