Dockless share bikes are the frontline of a battle between Chinese tech giants

Mobike and Ofo control 90 per cent of the market in China. They benefit from backers with extremely deep pockets: Mobike is now owned by Meituan-Dianping, which is in turn backed by Chinese social media and gaming titan Tencent, while Ofo is backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba. This has allowed them to edge out smaller, poorer competitors.

We are in the midst of a transport revolution – driverless cars, autonomous trucks, delivery drones – and mass transit modes are not immune to this. The legacy 19th-century transportation model that focuses on the organisation of the railways is being supplanted by a 21st-century model that thinks about servicing the individual customer.

“The future of mobility is customer-focused, data-enabled and dynamic. Personal mobility packages will bundle traditional modes with technology platforms and new service offerings like on-demand, car share, ride share and smart parking.”

The 2056 strategy aims “to make walking or cycling the transport choice for short trips – those that are under two kilometres”, and DBOs are in a prime position to address the “first and last mile” problem, the traditional stumbling block of public transportation.

Smartphones will be the gateway for each journey, allowing customers to plan for their multimodal journeys via a single interface, paid for by a subscription service that communicates directly with customers.

“Transport has been mainstreamed into the digital economy,” says transport policy expert Shannon Kelly. “People think, ‘I get my movie tickets online, I do everything online by my phone. And I just want transport to be exactly the same as everything else.’ Bike share really fits that app-based model.”

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