Online cab aggregator Uber has launched UberMOTO, its bike taxi service in Gurgaon. The company says that this is a pilot and has been launched in agreement with the memorandum of understanding it signed with the Haryana government to introduce ridesharing services in the state earlier this month.
As of now, the service is available in certain areas of the city, with plans to expand to future areas soon. Uber won’t charge a service fee for the pilot’s duration and submit “key findings” to the Government. We’d said at the time of the MoU that Uber would launch the bike taxi service in the state, given that it is also legal to do so in Haryana. UberMOTO will operate from 7:30AM to 9:30PM in Gurgaon, like Bangalore, where it was operating from 9AM to 7PM.
Uber said that the service will be especially useful for commuting to and from metro stations and will help in reducing congestion in Gurgaon. Gurgaon has a population of 876,824 according to the 2011 Census. Uber’s MoU with the Haryana Government hopes to create an alternative to car ownership, while the government hopes to reduce pollution and time spent in traffic in the cities.
Legal operational issues of UberMOTO: Uber hit a roadblock after the Karnataka government deemed the service illegal in the first week of March, the same week it was launched, and now requires bike taxi operators to apply for a license for their service in order to operate in the state. In the same week, Ola launched its bike taxi initiative in Bangalore.
At the time, Bangalore’s Commissioner for Transport & Road Safety, Dr Ramegowda told MediaNama that Ola and Uber had to go to the Road Transport Authority (RTA) of the state to obtain permission in order to operate in the city. He added that personally owned vehicles could not operate as commercial vehicles since aggregators collect money, and have to register under the Motor Vehicles Act and follow cab aggregator rules.
Need for unified regulation: We think that the Haryana Government has a more proactive approach to bike taxis and ride sharing to these services than outright banning like the Karnataka Government did. It would be helpful if the Transport ministry issued a nationwide policy on bike taxis, easing operations for not just for companies but also in being more open towards what works for rapidly urbanising areas in the country.
Focus on mass transit rather than niche services: Uber recently shuttered its more expensive UberBLACK service in India (it operates only in Mumbai currently), and seems to be focusing on cheaper or more sustainable services (for users, depending on if the company continues to offer its services at current rates). It also closed its auto booking and intercity services UberAUTO and UberINTERCITY (between Pune and Mumbai, and on UberX which likely still works) in the country, but canned both these services in December 2015, likely due to low demand.
Further reading: A study titled ‘Car Ownership Growth in Delhi’ (pdf)