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BSD113 Economics

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oBike’s business model is founded on a vision of a stationless bike-sharing system and has been operating in several countries.  It started its operation in Melbourne in June 2017 but had to terminate its business in this city in June 2018.  oBike’s GPS (Global Positioning System)-tracked bikes have a built-in Bluetooth lock and its riders (customers) generally can leave the hired bikes anywhere at the end of a journey, not necessary at a docking station or designated parking space.  Users can leave the bike in a public place for the next rider to use.  However, this concept has gone awry as these bikes were littering streets, found dumped in parks, waterways and rivers, and found up trees and on roofs in the city.  Other cities in Australia and overseas also shared the same problem.  The Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the City of Melbourne’s council and affected residents were all up in arms with the way the bikes cluttered the city, found dumped and posing a hazard to people’s safety.  In May 2018, new regulations were implemented by the EPA requiring oBike to clean up dumped or damaged bikes within stipulated times.  These regulations required oBike to remove bikes creating hazards within 2 hours; bikes cluttering streets in huge numbers, damaged or vandalised within 24 hours; and bikes found up trees or roofs in 48 hours and in waterways in 7 days.  The City of Melbourne was also given the power to fine oBike A$3,000 each time the company failed to comply.  Besides having to operate under tight regulations, oBike also faced another problem that threatens the viability of its business.  Criminals stole oBike’s bikes parked in public places and removed the GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking system and Bluetooth locking mechanism in these bikes, and try to sell the stolen bikes through social media.  On 12 June 2018, oBike ceased its operation in the Melbourne market as the regulatory compliance costs associated with addressing indiscriminate parking of bikes has become too high for the company to remain viable.     

1.1 Identify and explain the intended positive externalities from oBike’s stationless bikesharing system.

1.2 Identify and explain the negative externalities generated by oBike’s stationless bikesharing system.

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