The one-month “free trial” will begin next Thursday (Sept 21) as the Phuket City Development Co., Ltd (PKCD) consortium brings Beijing-based “ofo” and Singaporean-now-international operator “oBike” to Phuket as part of the consortium’s efforts to reduce traffic and provide tourists with another option of transport in the city centre.
The bikes will be available at six locales: on Thalang Rd, Dibuk Rd, Krabi Rd, in front of the old Standard Chartered Bank at the famous intersection of Phang Nga Rd and Phuket Town in the heart of Phuket Old Town, at Sapan Hin and at Suang Luang (Rama IX Park, or the King’s Park) on the south side of town.
Altogether, the six “bike ranks” provide coverage over 14 square kilometres.
“For the month-long trial, users will still have to download the right app [ofo or obike] for the bike they want to use and pay just B99 as a fully refundable deposit in order to use the bike,” PKCD partner Phuket Thongsom explained to The Phuket News today (Sept 13).
“During the trial there will be no fees charged for using the bike, but after the trial has concluded will are looking at charging B5 per 30 minutes,” Mr Phuket said.
The deposit is also likely to be increased, he added. In comparison, the deposit required by obike in Singapore, where the company was founded in January this year, is currently SG$49 (about B1,200).
“Also after the trial has concluded we will be able to evaluate what customers are looking for and adjust any plans necessary. We will also be able to look at launching the bike-sharing service elsewhere on the island,” Mr Phuket added.
PKCD’s involvement has only been to help with coordination, Mr Phuket stressed.
‘Our members are already very experienced with business in Phuket and working with local officials – and so we are in the perfect position to just help introduce this service… We did this just for the community,” he said, reinforcing PKCD’s rationale for forming in the first place.
“We have yet to see bike lanes dedicated for cyclists in Phuket Town, but we are still in talks with Phuket City Municipality in making this happen,” Mr Phuket said.
“We have spoken with the Phuket Governor, and he supports this idea,” he added.
After meeting with Mr Phuket and other representatives of the bike-sharing project, Governor Norraphat Plodthong today showered the initiative with praise.
“This is great project being coordinated by PKCD. It is good for government officers also. I think everyone – government and the private sector – should support this project together.
“This includes schools, police, the Phuket Environmental Office, the Phuket Bicycle Club, the TAT [Tourism Authority of Thailand] and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports Phuket office,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Phuket noted the operators were not worried about bike thefts.
“We can track these bikes and the user who takes the bike will continue to be charged until the bike is returned or until we are forced to take action to reclaim it, which might include press charges of theft,” he explained.
“The deposit also includes mandatory bike theft insurance and basic medical coverage in case of an accident,’ Mr Phuket added.
Neither of the two companies bringing the bike-sharing service to Phuket are new to Thailand, with ofo and oBike both having launched in areas of Bangkok already earlier this year (see here and here).
Meanwhile, oBike has enjoyed huge success in Malaysia and Australia, and this week was noted for a massive surge in the use of its bikes throughout Munich, Germany, where its fleet has grown from just 350 to 7,000 bikes stationed throughout the historic city in only a handful of months. (See story here.)