CHINESE bike-sharing giant ofo will further expand its service to cover all major provinces in Thailand next year, especially in the smart cities, said Noppol Toochinda, the company’s general manager for Thailand.
Next year the company has targeted to have at least 1 million users and 100,000 bicycles available in Thailand, he added. It now has around 100,000 users.
Currently ofo has 6,500 bikes available nationwide, of which 200 are in Thammsat University Thaprachan, Bangkok; 3,500 in Thammsat University Rangsit, Pathum Thani; 1,500 in Phuket; 1,000 in Pattani; and 300 in Chiang Mai.
He said that the government’s smart-city policy benefits ofo’s expansion plans, because those cities are improving e-services to help citizens access government and private-sector services. Also, the people in those cities are being encouraged to be smarter, both in their mindsets and discipline.
He said that after only three months after its debut in Thailand, ofo has had a very good reception from customers.
“Thailand’s ofo usage is among the highest in the world, so we are very satisfied with the results so far,” Noppol said.
“Using ofo is better than owning a bicycle yourself for several reasons. First, a consumer has much more convenience. Second, he/she doesn’t need to worry about maintenance. Third, ofo bikes are equipped with the best technology in the bicycle industry, which consumers can enjoy at a small cost. Last, buying a bicycle that you will use for only a few hours per day is not the best use of resources.”
He said that Thai consumers were using ofo at a very high rate and the reception from customers in every location it has entered has been strong and positive.
“Awareness of bike sharing works best if we have support from local governments, the private sector and the communities we operate in. Thus, we believe that our early approach to collaborate with these parties is surely the most efficient way to promote bike sharing in Thailand,” he added.
He said he was worried about local reports that shared bikes had been found dumped in canals in some provinces in Thailand.
“But it is something that happens around the world, not only in Thailand. Vandalism will always be a case for bike sharing to face. However, the percentage of bikes being vandalised is very small – less than 1 per cent of the total number of bikes we have,” Noppol said.
Soon the company will launch a new payment option for consumers to have easier access to ofo, he said.
Currently it offers free rides and zero deposit until end of 2017. The normal charge rate will be Bt5 per 30 minutes. Customers will need to download ofo’s wireless application to their mobile devices to register for the service, unlock the bikes and pay wirelessly by their debit or credit card.
He added that ofo was close to meeting its ambitious goal of covering 200 cities in 20 countries by the end of this year. Its service coverage expansion rate is extremely fast. For example, within three months in Thailand, ofo has already expanded to five cities. “That’s more than a city per month,” he said.
Founded in 2014, ofo has connected over 10 million bikes with 200 million global users in more than 180 cities across 17 countries. The platform generates 32 million transactions per day and has provided more than 4 billion rides in total.
Users have accumulated a riding distance of over 1.2 billion kilometres. If cycling is replacing car use, that is a reduction of 84 million litres of fuel consumption and 265,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from April to June this year alone.