The Karnataka transport department has written to Bengaluru-based ride hailing platform Ola and bike taxi startup Rapido to stop its bike taxi services immediately. Ola had begun pilot testing of the bike taxi services in Bengaluru since the past week.
The Ola, TaxiForSure and Uber (OTU) Owners and Drivers Association had requested the transport department to look into the matter and take action against both the companies.
The secretary of the state transport authority, Narendra Holkar has reportedly said that officials have been directed to seize any such bikes if found and also penalise them. He also added that the department has sought answers from the company as to why the services were introduced without the permission of the transport department.
Citing transport commissioner VP Ikkeri, the report added that bike taxi sharing services are not legal in Bengaluru as of yet as the department is yet to finalise the policy. The state government is still mulling over whether bike taxi services should be introduced in the state. However, since the policy is yet to be decided, the government will take action against the players who offer such services.
In response to Inc42’s query, Ola declined to comment on the matter.
The Karnataka transport department had declared Uber and Ola’s bike sharing services as “illegal” in 2016. The services were banned from the state.
The service has been strongly opposed by taxi riders and owners. Bike taxi services are however considered to be popular because of their speed and low cost fares. It is currently operational across some cities including Gurugram and Jaipur.
OTU Owners and Drivers Association president, Tanveer Pasha has however requested the government to stop the bike taxi services. He added that the service is also violating the Motor Vehicle Act which mentions that vehicle with white plates cannot be used for commercial purposes.
However, unnamed sources from Ola has reportedly countered by saying the pilot services were introduced only to understand the user response to the service and the data will be submitted to the government.
The tussle between the Karnataka government and the ride hailing companies has persisted with no resolution in sight. Last year in June, the state government had issued a notice to Ola and Uber against violation of rules for charging the time-based fare. The revised tariff plans for taxis came into effect in January 2018 where the state government had fixed fare by classifying them into different categories.
In 2017, Karnataka’s transport department had given a three day deadline to both the cab hailing giants Ola and Uber directing them to stop their cab sharing services by declaring them as illegal.
Bengaluru is infamous for its severely congested roads and high number of road accidents. According to a July 2018 report, the city had lost 3,250 human lives in road accidents in four years. The report also added that motorcycle accidents were also increasing in the city.
In order to keep a check, the city had taken a step to ban bike sharing services. While banning the bike taxi services, the transport department has also warned the consumers to stop using the service and added that users won’t be provided with insurance in case the vehicles got into accidents.
[The development was reported by ET]