Does Bike-sharing Save You Money?

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 27 May, 2017

Which of the 3 bike-sharing services help Singaporeans save the most money on transport? 

With no less than 3 bike-sharing operators, Singaporeans now have even more affordable, convenient and eco-friendly options to carry out their daily errands.

However, is it worth the effort to actually get on a bike and pedal to your destination in Singapore’s sweltering heat? After all, you could just as easily climb on a feeder bus - and enjoy some airon while you’re at it.

What advantages, financial or otherwise, can Singaporeans reap by switching to bike-sharing services?

Bike-sharing is Cheaper than Feeder Buses

First, here’s a breakdown of the fares and cost structure for the 3 currently available bike-sharing services, and how they compare against a feeder bus service.

Cost of Bike-sharing vs Feeder Buses

ServiceDeposit  (Refundable)Fare Free Rides?
ofoS$39S$1 per hour, capped at S$2 per rideComplete a ride to receive a S$2 coupon

(receive S$3 rebate upon paying deposit)

Depends on Credit Points (CP)

CP 80 and above: S$0.50 per 15 mins

CP 60 to 79: S$5 per 15 mins

CP less than 60: S$50 per 15 mins

Invite friends, and both will receive S$5 worth of coupons
MobikeS$49Depends on Credit Points (CP)

CP above 100:  S$0.50 per 30 mins

CP 81 to 100: S$20 per 30 mins

CP less than 80: S$100 per 30 mins

Feeder BusS$0S$0.77 to S$1.40 per ride

ofo - Best Option for Long Rides

Of the 3 bike-sharing services in the market, ofo offers the cheapest fares - provided you need a long ride.

Starting at S$1 per hour, and with a maximum fare of S$2 per ride, ofo offers the most wallet-friendly option for day-long excursions. Because you end your trip by tapping a button on the app, you have the freedom to time your rides. This is handy when you need to complete a whole list of errands requiring multiple stops.

Also, ofo charges the lowest deposit of S$39, making it the cheapest bike-sharing service to start using.

However, if you frequently make short trips, ofo may not be the best choice for you. At a minimum of S$1 per ride, your 15-min runs to the gelato shop can quickly add up.

oBike - Best Option for Short Jaunts

What gives oBike the edge over its competitors is the ease with which you can find it’s bikes. oBikes are encouraged to be parked at any public bike parking places, which means you’ll likely find them outside neighbourhood malls, outside MRT stations, and even at your void deck.

However, at a base rate of S$0.50 per 15 mins, oBike’s fare are also the highest. (However, you’ll get a S$3 rebate when you pay the deposit.) As such, oBikes are best suited for trips lasting 15 mins or less.

One thing to note though is oBike’s credit system. Bad behaviour (parking illegally, violating traffic rules, etc.) will cause your credit level to go down, which will cause you to be subject to higher fares in return.

Your credit rating can be raised by completing rides without incident, reporting broken or illegally parked bikes, and other generally helpful behaviour.

Mobike - Flexible Option, But Watch Your Credit Rating

China-based Mobike is the third option for Singaporean bike-sharing users, and offers a comparable price and service type.

At S$0.50 per 30 mins, Mobike is priced in-between ofo and oBike. However, like oBike, it also has a credit system, and this is where it gets tricky.

You’ll notice that Mobike is not shy on the penalties it doles out on errant users - you could be paying S$100 per 30 mins if your account was found guilty of severe abuse.

Even if you don’t have a sociopathic tendency to abuse bicycles, you may still find yourself paying much more than you’d like for a ride. Note that for any credit rating lower than 100, your fares spike to S$20 per 30 mins.

As a new user starting with 100 credits, you’re put on a short lease, so you might want to pay attention to the rules.

Bike-sharing is a Green Way to Save Money

With prices even cheaper than a feeder bus, bike-sharing services are indeed a viable way to save money. Yes, you’ll be shaving dollars off the household budget, but there are larger benefits beyond the financial ones.

Regularly riding a bicycle also means you’re adding minutes of physical activity to your day, which is beneficial for improving health and fitness. And as you cycle to and fro, you might get to discover the in’s and out’s of your neighbourhood, gaining a much deeper appreciation for your surroundings.

And perhaps most importantly, bike-sharing lets you go green and save the Earth, one errand at a time.

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Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan

A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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