bike taxis

Online cab aggregator Uber has said that it has “paused” its UberMOTO bike taxi service in Bangalore. In its statement, the company says that it is going to share the findings of the pilot, which was launched in Bangalore in March this year. The statement adds that it will work with the government “to create modern regulations for app-based motorbike services.” It appears that Uber plans to re-launch UberMOTO in Bangalore in the future, but does not mention timelines. Uber’s full statement at the bottom.

It also seems that UberMOTO will remain operational in Gurgaon, where it was launched towards the end of March. Uber had called this a pilot as well, which was launched in agreement with the memorandum of understanding it signed with the Haryana government to introduce ridesharing services in the state in the same month. Note that bike taxis are legal in the states of Haryana and Goa.

Bike taxi services stopped in Thailand; Uber affected
Note that this development comes just a day after Thailand put a hold on bike taxi services like Uber and Grab, citing that these companies broke local rules and were clashing with ‘registered transport companies’, according to this BBC report. The report states that Thailand authorities have arrested 66 drivers from both the companies, and could face fines as well as have their licenses suspended. Uber’s statement to the BBC said, “This is a temporary pause for a global pilot.”

A Reuters report states that there are over 186,000 motorcycles registered in Thailand to provide bike taxi services, out of these almost half are in Bangkok. In Bangkok, Uber offers its UberX and UberBLACK car services. In February, Uber launched UberMOTO in Bangkok in Sathorn, Siam, and Silom areas. It then planned to extend the service to other Bangkok areas in the coming months.

The problem with running a bike taxi service in Karnataka
In the same week as Uber launched UberMOTO and Ola launched it’s bike taxi service in Bangalore, the Karnataka State Transport department deemed both as illegal, since they did not have permits to operate as commercial vehicles in Bangalore. At that 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.

MediaNama’s take:
While Uber does not state an explicit reason for stopping UberMOTO, it does not come as a surprise that it did. We’ve stated before that the Haryana government has taken a more proactive approach to public and personal transport in the past, as compared to the Karnataka government, which believes in banning services without a dialog/consultation. Of course, there’s no denying that if a company is breaking the local law, it will be charged. However, Uber really stands to lose nothing in this situation. Since the bike taxi service was deemed a pilot from the start, it could be said that Uber wasn’t looking to generate revenue from it. It would be most interesting if we could see the data that Uber is sharing with the government and compare it with the decision or rules or statements the government comes up with after accessing that data.

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Uber’s statement:

“Earlier this year we rolled out the pilot of uberMOTO in Bangalore – our first two-wheeled ridesharing service in India’s IT City. Today, we are pressing pause on the pilot while we share our learnings and work with the government to create modern regulations for app-based motorbike services. The phenomenal response to uberMOTO makes us confident that the city and Bangaloreans will benefit from ridesharing services like uberMOTO in the near future.By working together with the government we want to serve our cities and communities better – ensuring our ability to support last mile connectivity, providing affordable commute choices and reducing congestion as well as pollution overtime. We want to thank you for your extraordinary support.”

Image Credit: Khaosaming under CC BY SA 3.0