Two of the largest cab aggregators operating in India, Uber and Ola launched a pilot bike taxi service in Bengaluru. Bike taxis will help the customers to zip through traffic with ease and without any hassle. Both Ola and Uber started this initiative as a pilot service and they will test this in Bengaluru. Both operators wanted to cut through the congestion of Bengaluru traffic and encourage fewer vehicles on the road.
Both the operators provide the same features while you book a cab ride in their respective mobile apps and provide the same safety features of the cab ride they provide in the mobile app. Additionally, all pillion riders will be provided with helmets as mandated for their safety.
Uber moto is available from 7Am to 9PM while Ola Bike services will be available from 7AM to 10PM.
Ola Bike is available from as low as Rs. 2 per km while Uber Moto is around Rs. 3 per km with a base fare of Rs. 15.
Bike Taxi Services in India
Apart from Uber and Ola, there are a couple of other bike taxi providers in India. Bengaluru based Hey Bob, Rapido already provide bike taxi service. Gurgaon based Baxi, Bikxie, MTaxi also works on the similar lines. However there is bike pooling applications like Pilot which will help the bike owners earn up to Rs. 6000 per month.
In November last year, Baxi raised $1.5Mn in a seed round funding. All their fleets are licensed with yellow number plates which will serve as a taxi provider. Another Gurgaon based startup MTaxi also closed undisclosed funding round from angel investors in last december.
With the launch of Uber and Ola in Bengaluru, these small players will have a run for their money. All these small players are concentrated on bike taxi where as Uber and Ola is an aggregator who has 4 wheeler taxis as well. More over the overhead of having their own fleet will make these startups pocket’s smaller.
Two wheeler taxi services are popular in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, US, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Nigeria, and Sweden.
Two days Baxi announced that they had completed 3000 rides a day in Gurgaon and Faridabad. In three months since their launch, Baxi completed 75,000 rides, with two of their customers taking more than 100 rides each. Over 35% of the rides are from repeat customers, those who used two or more trips in Baxi.
Challenges for bike taxi
The biggest challenge for the bike taxi startups is from the state governments. Goa has made it legal to use bike taxi’s long back itself. However other states are not permitting to use bike’s as a commercial transport system. Motorcycles and scooters are non-transport vehicles and cannot be used for goods or passenger transport. Bike taxis are popular (and legal) in Goa, but it is not permitted in Maharashtra. The state, however, has a rent-a-bike scheme in which a bike can be hired for a particular number of hours or on daily basis, according to a statement from Maharashtra RTO in last June.
Last year Bikees, a company based in Chennai has closed down due to lack of licensing. Hey Taxi, Mumbai based bike taxi service also cancelled bike taxi service citing licensing issues. Hey Taxi is currently operating as a ridesharing and delivery service in Mumbai and Bengaluru.
According to a report in The Times of India, the Karnataka transport department has said both Ola and Uber have not obtained permit or licence to run ridesharing bikes in Bengaluru. The authorities have already started seizing these vehicles from roads.
Another challenge, of course could be the safety. Considering the traffic, steeple chase over the potholes, careless bus/truck drivers who are not considering the people on road, auto/cabs who wants to ride through every inch of the free space in the road and the pollution is all a major concern.
As more and more startups are coming up in this space with lower fares, the fierce competition and overhead of having their own fleets will be a major problem for the startups.
The bike taxi service can face threats from the traditional auto drivers and bus operators especially in those cities where there are lesser number of government buses. If you are travelling in a group or at least two, there are options for cab sharing or riding on your own cab. So a bike taxi might affect autos the most considering that the passengers take auto for smaller distance or when they are travelling alone or when they want to reach a place faster. With the option of bike taxi, the commuters might go for the bike taxi where they get a cheaper ride option.
Offering free shower caps is another overhead for these startups for people who consider more hygiene. As the helmets provided are used by every rider, people might ask for a disposable shower cap which can protect your hair from used helmets.
Another challenge could be from the female riders who will be hesitant to take ride with a stranger. But this can be overcome by using female drivers.
Benefits for the riders?
By far this is the most cheapest option for any rider who uses bike taxi. With the fares as low as Rs. 2 per km, the service is cheaper than even an auto ride in most of the cities. Moreover the auto drivers don’t use meters and the passenger ends up paying double or even more. Bike taxis are aimed at solving the last mile connectivity issues that most of the big cities face.
Apart from the nominal fares, bike taxis provide fastest option for the riders. On an average, in cities like Bengaluru, Gurgaon, it will take 1 hour to cover a distance of 10kms on a peak day. Bike Taxis can easily cut through these traffic and can save considerable time for the daily commuters.
The bike taxi service is an outcome of necessity. If all the safety requirements and regulatory requirements are met, the government and other regulatory bodies should be supportive of these services rather than restrictive.
With the rise in number of startups in this space, we might see few more funding in this space soon. This will be a good opportunity for some foreign players like Go-Jek, an Indonesian based bike taxi service provider to set up their operations in India. Sequoia backed Go-Jek has already invested in two Indian tech startups aimed at strengthening their technology.
SWOT Analysis of Bike Taxi in India