Bengaluru Likely To End Bike Taxi Services On Poor Response From Aggregators

Karnataka is mulling to end bike taxi services in the capital city Bengaluru after the state government observed poor response from ride hailing aggregators to offer services with two wheelers.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is learnt to have verbally agreed to a proposal from the transport department to withdraw the Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi Scheme, 2021, ET reported.

The regulation sought to address urban mobility issues, including first and last mile connectivity problems faced by citizens.

Under the policy, organisations or individuals can register their two-wheelers as taxis. Besides, companies operating such bike taxis will have to provide insurance coverage for the riders and the owner.

The report further said that the only company that has applied for a license under the bike taxi scheme is the parent company of EV manufacturer Bounce, Wicked Ride. Bounce which was earlier planning to introduce bike taxi services with its fleet, is now going slow on that.

In October last year, Delhi clarified its stance by introducing a policy that permitted the operation of bike taxis, but only those using electric bikes.

Ola cofounder, Bhavish Aggarwal announced the relaunch of Ola Bike, the company’s motorcycle taxi service, in Bengaluru last year. Aggarwal emphasised that the service would exclusively use electric scooters made by Ola Electric this time. However, the company has yet to apply for a license.

Bike taxis have always faced challenges in Bengaluru, with frequent clashes between auto drivers and bike taxi operators. Auto drivers protested last year, blocking some bike taxis and even assaulting the riders. These incidents gained attention after videos went viral last year. One of the demands of auto drivers is a ban on bike taxis.

Previously, the Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi Scheme 2021 also effectively ended the standoff between bike taxi operators such as Rapido and Bounce, and the state. Before this policy, the Karnataka High Court ordered the government to clarify its stand on allowing motorcycle taxis after companies had filed a case in this regard.

In the past, the state police had imposed penalties on drivers and confiscated bikes in the absence of a clear-cut policy for bike taxis. 

Despite this, a single judge ruling in Karnataka High Court in 2021 instructed transport authorities not to take punitive measures against Rapido’s bike taxi service, allowing them to continue operating even with non-electric bikes due to the absence of government regulations.

Rapido, a Bengaluru startup supported by Westbridge Capital and Nexus Venture Partners, has been offering app-based bike taxi services in the city since 2016.

Several states, such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Goa, have permitted bike taxis. Goa, in particular, has had bike taxis, locally known as pilots, for many years.

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