Uber suspended bike taxi pilot in India within ten days of its launch after the Karnataka government cried foul saying that the app hailing company had failed to get local permissions to run the service in its gridlock-prone capital Bengaluru.
Rival Ola, which begun the pilot for its bike taxi service in Bengaluru on the same day as Uber, suspended its service within a day following a warning from the state. Uber, however, failed to heed to the ban on bike taxis which led to 80-odd two wheelers, operated by private individuals on its platform, being seized by the Bengaluru traffic police. Uber and Ola follow an asset-light model where they connect individual taxi owners with riders for a fee.
“I met with somebody from Uber today. They said that they will go before the Road Transport Authority (RTA) and submit an application. Until they receive the approval for operating bike taxis in Karnataka they said they would stop the service,” Ramegowda, Karnataka’s commissioner for transport and road safety, told Business Standard.
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The issue arose due to the lack of provision for two-wheeler taxis in India’s central government Motor Vehicle Act. The Karnataka government has said that once the right approvals are procured by these aggregators, it will consider offering them licenses on a case-by-case basis.
Uber did not respond to both email and phone queries seeking clarification on the issue.
Bike taxis are a popular mode of transport in several Southeast Asian countries which face issues of traffic congestion similar to Indian cities. Uber launched its first bike taxi service in Bangkok a week ahead of introducing it in Bengaluru.
The initial hearing of the demands of players vying to operate bike taxi services has already happened and the final notification from the RTA will come by end March. “I have told them that we will let them operate once they get a yellow board for the bikes or a badge for the rider,” Ramegowda said.
In the past, the Karnataka government had opposed Uber’s carpooling service which allowed owners of private cars to charge a fee for ferrying passengers. The state had also suspended the licence of ZipGo, a shuttle bus service, on the grounds of operating without the right permits and competing with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation.
The state governments of Karnataka and Maharashtra have also moved to exert more control on app-based taxi aggregators. Both states have passed drafts that could force Ola and Uber to install digital meters, stick to state-prescribed fares and do away with surge pricing.