Online cab aggregator Ola launched its bike taxi initiative in Bangalore literally hours after Uber launched a similar service (come on guys, this isn’t a race. Oh wait… it is. The service be similar to Ola cabs; users will see driver details, have an SOS option, live tracking and online payment using Ola Money. Booking can be made through the regular app.
Note that Ola does not mention under what criteria users can sign up to be drivers on the platform. The company also does not mention which areas of Bangalore it currently cover and how much commission it will charge. We have written to the company asking these questions and will update when we get a reply.
As for the cost, Ola will charge users an introductory fare of Rs 2 per km and Rs 1 per minute of trip time. The minimum fare will be Rs 30. The company mentions that the service is only available in some areas for now, with plans to cover more areas in the coming weeks. For regulatory compliance, the company will ensure pillion riders get helmets.
Uber MOTO: UberMOTO will work through the same Uber app and will cost a minimum of Rs 15, followed by Rs 3 per km. People who own and ride bikes can also sign up to become drivers on the platform and the service will be operational from 7AM to 9PM.
Bike taxis legal only in Haryana and Goa: It’s important to note that in November, Haryana followed Goa’s suit to allow bikes as a mode of public transport, letting users get bike rides from either their apps or from bike taxi stands in the city, complete with a uniform and helmets. These are the only 2 states in India where it is legal to have bike taxis.
The bike taxi race as it stands now:
– Last month, Noida-based bike taxi app N.O.W raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from investment banking firm Maple Capital Advisors.
– In January, Bikxie raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from two individuals, one from the Middle East and one from India.
– M-taxi launched in Gurgaon in December last year.
– Baxi Taxi launched in Gurgaon in the same month. Currently, it claims to have 300 bikes across Gurgaon and Faridabad, 50,000 registered users and done over 75,000 trips since launch.
MediaNama’s take: Looking at the number of vehicles on the Bangalore roads, it seems that even if it is not a great long term solution, bike taxis will help users in the short term and reduce the number of bikes on the road. The gaps in public transport and the number of private vehicles going up is unfortunately a cyclical phenomena: people buy cars and bikes to fight the idea that public transport is not reliable or on time, thus clogging the roads, and because people buy more personal vehicles, public transport usage falls, also unfortunately contributing to the problem. Let’s see how the government delivers on the infrastructure upgrades promised in the current budget.