No smooth ride for bike taxis in India

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Updated: March 6, 2016 10:00:28 AM

For all those looking for economical last-mile personal transportation, two-wheeler taxis by several start-ups like Ola, Uber, M-Taxi and Bikxie Pink are a ride straight from heaven. But the authorities don’t think so.

bike pooling in bangaloreOla and Uber launched a motorcycle taxi service for the first time in the country earlier this week, allowing users to be pillion riders.

For all those looking for economical last-mile personal transportation, two-wheeler taxis by several start-ups like Ola, Uber, M-Taxi and Bikxie Pink are a ride straight from heaven. But the authorities don’t think so.

On Friday, Bengaluru’s regional transport authority said that the taxi services piloted by both Ola and Uber are illegal, and it would pursue legal action against both firms for not seeking permission first. Incidentally, except Goa and Haryana, no other state in India allows commercial use of two-wheelers.

“Any taxi has to be yellow-board and two-wheelers cannot be registered under a yellow board. For now, a two-wheeler cannot be legally used for commercial operations. The stakeholders have to make an application to the RTO and get permission first. Passenger safety, insurance cover, existing government regulations should all be looked into before starting such a service,” Karnataka transport commissioner Ramegowda said.

Last year, due to security concerns, the Mumbai RTO had ordered the shutting down of a two-wheeler taxi service provider, Hey Taxi, within a week of its launch.

Ola and Uber launched a motorcycle taxi service for the first time in the country earlier this week, allowing users to be pillion riders. Both companies are piloting the project in Bengaluru.

Uber’s service is called UberMOTO, while Ola calls it Ola Bike.

Uber and Ola’s services are slightly different than those offered by start-ups like Letsride.in and Rapido, which follow the two-wheeler ride sharing concept. To avoid regulatory issues, both the start-ups are not providing a taxi service, but a platform for people to connect and share a ride on the user-owned motorcycles. However, Ola and Uber are using it as a commercial service.

Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer at Ola, said, “With bike taxis, we are enabling safe pillion rides for our users with trained two-wheeler drivers at competitive fares. We expect significant demand in the pilot phase and will continue to scale this service up in the coming weeks to cover more areas in the city and serve more users.”

Commenting on two-wheelers, Aprameya Radhakrishna, founder of TaxiForSure, had told FE earlier that the adoption rate in the car-pooling segment in India was much lower compared with the US and there were other real challenges that need to be addressed.

“First, there is a social barrier ? unlike in the West, here, the person who owns a car hesitates to share a ride as he considers it a status symbol. So it is ideal to start a bike pooling service,” he had said.

Motorcycle taxis are popular in countries like Brazil, China, US and the UK

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