Ofo city manager Alex Hender told InDaily that the company’s decision to withdraw from Australia should not be taken to mean the nascent form of transport was not viable in Adelaide.
He said he was searching for a new operator to buy some or all of ofo’s Adelaide fleet – and vowed that none of the distinctive yellow bikes would be left strewn across the city.
Ofo enjoyed a brief monopoly in Adelaide after Singaporean competitor oBike failed to renew its permit and was ordered by the Adelaide City Council to cease operating here.
But ofo has announced that it, too, can no longer provide a commercial dockless bikeshare service in Adelaide.
Hender said that while ofo had not yet turned a profit in its Adelaide operations “all the ingredients are there” for another company or entrepreneur to take up the mantle.
“I’d like to hand them over to someone who is going to keep the (dockless bikeshare) scheme alive,” he told InDaily.
“We’ve got … 500 plus bikes that are in fantastic working condition.
“For the right business (they) can be extremely profitable … we’ve just got to find the right person.
He argued that ofo had “proven that the market can support the product”.
“We’ve done over 55,000 trips (in Adelaide),” he said.
“We’ve proved the product is viable … the fundamentals are right.
“It’s got support from government … the main issue is capital outlay.”
He said the worst-case scenario was that the bikes would need to be collected and recycled.
“My instructions are to responsibly dispose of the bikes,” he said.
“No junk on the streets.
“We leave ethically, with our head held high.”
He added that the ofo logos were relatively easy to remove and yellow was a good colour for bikeshare bicycles – for visibility and safety.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said ofo had “made a strategic decision to focus on priority markets internationally”.
“Ofo will therefore wind-down operations in Adelaide and Sydney during the next 60 days.
“The decision does not come lightly, and ofo Australia will act responsibly in each market as it winds down operations, resolving any outstanding concerns before finalising operations.”
Hender said he was “moving on to other things” but that one of his goals as he finishes up over the next month was to find new employment for about 10 Adelaide ofo staff.
A spokesperson for the Adelaide City Council, which provides permits for bikeshare, said it was not aware of any company ready to take up bikeshare in Adelaide.
$1 million from the council and the State Government’s cycling infrastructure package was diverted away from establishing a point-to-point bikeshare scheme in Adelaide towards higher quality separated bikeways through the city.
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