Ola fallout: Three years on, govt dithers on bike taxis

Last Updated 24 March 2019, 19:45 IST

Three years after bike taxis came along, the state government is yet to take a stand on such services. It has failed to check some companies offering services illegally.

The issue has come under the spotlight after the Regional Transport Office suspended Ola’s licence for running motorcycle taxis. While the cab aggregator, in its petition for revoking the ban, defended its position saying bike taxi services were offered only on a pilot basis to assess the demand, the department noted that permission was not given for the experiment.

Ola and Uber experimented with bike taxis in March 2016 but shut it down after officials warned that there was no legal provision for such services. Companies like Rapido continue to offer the service despite crackdowns.

Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge, the first to respond to the backlash against Ola ban by promising to resolve the issue, said corrective measures aimed at encouraging the startup environment was needed.

“Technology has been ahead of policy because of fast-paced innovative experiments. There was no provision for aggregators in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, but governments formed policies after Ola and Uber arrived,” said Kharge, who headed the IT and BT department earlier.

‘Can’t stop innovation’

When pointed out that officials have been divided over bike taxis, Kharge said a policy should be formed to lay a clear path for companies.

“We can’t stop science and innovation. I’m not saying that bike taxis are needed. But policy should catch up with science and lay a path to move forward,” he said.

In September, the state government set up a committee to come up with measures for an efficient and sustainable transport system, including bike taxis, for last-mile connectivity in Bengaluru within 15 days. However, there are no measures yet.

“Some committee members were transferred and others got busy with tasks that took precedence. This has led to the delay. The report is yet to be submitted,” a senior official who is part of the committee said.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation had said that bike taxis will hurt its revenue and urged the government to look at alternatives. The transport department officials had earlier expressed concern over the safety of passengers, considering that two-wheelers were involved in most accidents.

Overall mobility

Vinay Srinivasa, a member of Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike, said the government should set up a United Metropolitan Transport Authority at the earliest. “All the stakeholders should come together to take a call on such crucial issues. Decisions on last-mile connectivity should be made by taking into consideration overall mobility in the state,” he said.

According to him, instead of allowing Ola and Uber to dominate the market, the government should think of empowering thousands of unemployed people by introducing e-rickshaws for last-mile connectivity.

(Published 24 March 2019, 19:19 IST)

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