No more free rides. ofo bike company introduces deposit fee and rental charges
Free rides on bright yellow ofo bicycles are over. From 23 May, users who plan to use ofo bikes will have to pay a $39 deposit. The fee is to “encourage ride responsibility”, said ofo’s head of APAC business Lawrence Cao.
He also added it is “to make sure all users have easy and fair access to a well-maintained bicycle for every ride they take.”
“Under 1 per cent” of its current fleet are abused in Singapore, said ofo’s regional manager Elin Ma.
Also, users will be charged $1 an hour, capped at $2 for the entire travel journey, the company announced on Wednesday (May 24) at an event to mark its 100 days in Singapore.
Cyclists will be refunded their $39 when they decide to, well, break up with ofo.
Since the bike sharing service started in Singapore, there have been cases of bicycles parked indiscriminately, as well as misuse and vandalism.
ofo Aura 1.0
The Chinese company also announced that a new fleet of 500 ofo bicycles will be rolled out in phases in the coming month, adding to the current “thousands” of bicycles that are already on the roads in Singapore, ofo said.
Called ofo Aura 1.0 and exclusively available in Singapore, the new bike comes with a smart lock feature – a mechanical lock compatible with the integrated GPS system in the refreshed app allowing users to unlock/lock the bike in under three seconds.
“Unlock by simply scanning the QR code,” explained Cao. To lock, regardless of the bike model, manually turn to the knob and the session will end.
“These enhancements and upgrades have been implemented based on user feedback,” he said.
If you previously had to visit several MRT stations before you found an ofo bike, you need not hunt further.
The updated app, which is available for download from app stores, has two new features – bike locator and map routes. In the refreshed app, ofo uses Google Maps to inform users of available bikes nearby, as well as route maps and locate nearby parking zones.
ofo is also working with HDB, industrial estates and town councils to establish “over 100 preferred parking zones” within public housing estates. Currently there are 85 parking zones, said Ma.
The company also announced that it aims to release “over 1,000 bicycles across 28 different HDB estates by year end” in estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East, Tampines and Sembawang.
ofo has partnered with AXA insurance to offer coverage to both riders and third-party person in the event of an accident.
Since establishing in Singapore, Cao shared that ofo has captured over 50 per cent of the bike-sharing market with more than 100,000 users clocking an excess of 20,000 journeys every day. Launched in Beijing, China, in 2014, ofo has more than 100 million users and a fleet of over six million bicycles in 100 cities globally.
Besides ofo, Chinese company Mobike and local start-up oBike are the other players in the bike-sharing market in Singapore. oBike asks for $49 deposit and charges $0.50 per 15 minutes travel time. Mobike has a refundable $49 deposit and charges $1 for every 30 minutes ride time.