City bike-taxi trial in progress

City bike-taxi trial in progress

Ola launches a pilot project to convince the government two-wheelers can address last-mile problems, and Rapido’s ride-sharing app is doing well.

Rapido has been active in Bengaluru since 2016. It works with office-goers and students who take passengers on their bikes.

Are bike taxis the answer to the city’s burgeoning traffic? A ride-hailing company is working towards launching bike taxis again, while another is working successfully in some neighbourhoods.

A screenshot of the Ola bike ride booking.

Ola launched bike taxis in 2016 but the transport department seized their bikes on the grounds that they did not have the required permits. The company is now gathering data in a project to convince the government about the need for bike taxis in Bengaluru.

“The pilot project will derive data about how the category is developing. The campaign format launched in 2016 can’t be used now as trends keep changing,” an industry source told Metrolife.

Ola is leveraging riders from Food Panda, besides independent ones, and hopes to make out a case soon.

“The idea is to show the benefits of bike taxis, customer and driver response, and income generation,” says the source. The study will also show how the last-mile connectivity problem can be addressed with bike taxis.

You might find the bike taxi option on the Ola app, but remember it is at the pilot stage, and the service is not available 24/7. Just a few bikes are on the road since it’s a testing phase, the industry source says.

The campaign was launched on February 4, and Ola wants to encourage women riders, too. Women riders are already active in Gurugram, Faridabad and Jaipur, according to the source.

The company has not set a deadline for the launch in Bengaluru. It expects bike taxis to be popular among people who want to travel short distances.

How safe are they?

Bike taxis will follow the same rules as taxis in other categories. The Ola app displays driver details, and provides an emergency button and live tracking. Additionally, all pillion riders will be mandatorily provided ISI-approved helmets.

If you have hygiene concerns, you can use a disposable cap provided by Ola. The bikes will have first-aid kits and riders will get emergency medical response training.

Wallet factor

- Regular cab Rs 11
- Premium cab Rs 16
- Luxury cab Rs 20
- Auto Rs 13
- Bike Rs 5 (Rapido)

(Fare per km fixed by govt; fares get more expensive when demand is high on ride-hailing apps. Ola has still not fixed fares for its bike taxis).

Why bike taxis

- Fast and convenient.

- Cheaper than cab and auto rides.

- Narrow roads not a problem.

- Can ease traffic congestion.

Bike-share catching on

Bengaluru is not new to the concept of bike taxis.

An app called Rapido provides bike sharing and pooling options. It has been functional in Bengaluru since 2016.

Rapido calls people who provide rides ‘captains.’

“We have 20,000 captains, including college students and young office-goers. Most of our rides are used around IT parks and colleges,” says Aravind Sanka, co-founder of the BengaluruX-based company.

Rapido is popular in Koramangala, HSR Layout, BTM Layout, Jayanagar, JP Nagar, Whitefield, and Indiranagar.

Captains upload essential documents, mobile numbers and the route they frequent. They need not be full-time bike riders.

“After they are verified, passengers using the app get matches. We provide insurance both to the rider and the customer,” he says.

The company is aware of safety and privacy concerns. It provides helmets for both the rider and the passenger.

Contact numbers of female customers are masked. “About three per cent of Rapido users are women,” he says.

Sanka says the company is following all regulations laid down by the Central government. “We will be happy to apply for any additional permits if more regulations are put forth by the State government,” he says. Bike rides come for Rs 5 a km and Rs 0.50 per minute of riding.