Commentary: People DGAF When Bike-Sharing Firms Increase Prices & It’s Expected

Lest you’re not aware, for more than a year now, the number of bike-sharing firms has mushroomed: in a small market like Singapore, there lies three companies: oBike, MoBike and ofo.

Oh, wait, no. There’re more.

There’s GBikes, which promises 3,000 bikes here in Singapore.

Image: straitstimes.com

And then there’s Anywheel, which, to be honest, might not take off, given that they’ve only 500+ app downloads in Google Play.

Even the Goody Feed app has much more downloads, and we don’t rent out bicycles #justsaying

The prices have always been competitive: so competitive that we’ve often said, “Isn’t it almost free?”

I for once used it a while before, and I didn’t even remember how much it cost: I just know that buying a can of Coke is much more expensive than renting a bicycle.

But recently, prices for MoBike and ofo have suddenly increased; quite drastically.

Increase in prices up to eight times the original

If you’re still in the era of “per-minute charges”, it’s time to up your bicycle game: they now sell passes instead.

In November last year, a monthly pass of Mobike would cost a mere $1. Now, it’s at $7.99. That’s seven times more.

Ofo has been providing free rides on certain months, but on average, a two-month pass would cost $1.50 (which means one month is at about $0.75). It’s now at $6.99, which means it’s about eight times more.

Ah Hock loved Michelle and asked her, ‘Ai stead mai?’ in the 90s. Today, he tried again but would it work? Prepare some tissue paper and watch their love story here:

oBike has yet to adjust its price, but it doesn’t matter. Read on.

The honeymoon period is over. Again.

You see, the world is very different now: back in the days, businesses must be profitable fast, if not they’ll be in debt and die a merciless death fast.

Well, not in the world of technology startups.

Facebook was started in 2004, and it was only in 2009 that it became profitable. Twitter got into our lives in 2006, and it was only in this year (2018) that they turned a profit.

The reason? They were acquiring users. Or to be more precise, forming habits.

Nowadays, if we remove Facebook or Instagram from the world, we’ll be folding toilet paper in the toilet. Similarly, if we remove all the bike-sharing bicycles from bus stops or MRT stations, some of us might just forget that walking for ten minutes is a doable feat.

Now that we’re so accustomed to riding a bike to the MRT station, other options (like buses, walking) seem almost illogical. Just like how we’ll say this to our friends: “Going for a shit without your phone? That’s illegal!”

We’ll pay, no matter what

In this Channel NewsAsia article, some people claimed that they won’t pay that much as they could easily buy a bicycle with that amount.

I beg to differ. It isn’t about owning the bicycle. It’s about the ease of use. And the habits.

Ride one from your house to the MRT station, park it there and when you’re at your workplace MRT station, you can find another bicycle waiting for you to ride to, perhaps, a bus stop.

Owning a bicycle won’t provide that convenience.

We can’t siam from this trend whereby we’re mere pawns to rich businesses

This bike-sharing thingy might seem ingenious, but it isn’t. Every day, businesses are trying to form habits so that once they start to ask for money, you’ll willingly do so.

Remember trials of a certain software? Remember how cheap some food outlets inititally were? And remember Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – back in the days when there were no ads?

Yah, just suck your thumb and accept that this is merely part of capitalism. Like it or not, even if bikes-sharing companies up the price by twenty times, we’ll still buy their services.

After all…when is the last time you take a taxi? #GrabUberFTW

Do come back tomorrow for more commentary!