Urban expansion in India has been at an unmatched pace in the world. The Mission 2022 programme launched by the Indian government recognised 100 smaller cities fuelling the urban population to rise by 400 Mn and touch 814 Mn by 2050 approximately. However, this expansion will trickle down to states across the country and there will be challenges as cities expand to accommodate the growing workforce.
The blue-collar workforce in India is constantly migrating in search of new job opportunities and a better standard of living. With the demand for everyday services increasing, the majority of the workforce are on road, travelling from one local address to another, completing their work schedules.
Their transportation from nodal points to the final destination is a challenge. These workers either walk for miles or have to spend on private autos, public buses and taxis to reach their destination, often carrying a lot of work supplies.
One of the key factors determining the success of the Smart Cities Program will be a good mobility and transportation system to ease the ever-growing strain of its expanding urban population on services. India needs to develop a shared mobility system that creates benefits for all stakeholders involved.
Bike Taxi Landscape And Existing Business Models In India
In countries like Indonesia and Nigeria, bike taxis are a popular way to commute that solve the last mile connectivity and decreasing the traffic congestion on the road. It is seen as a more convenient and affordable way to travel, without adding on to the traffic congestion woes, and also filling the otherwise empty pillion seat, saving fuel.
India, in comparison, has 50% more two-wheeler sales than four-wheeler sales every year. This also means more two-wheelers ply on the road and most of them ride without a pillion rider.
According to data from PGA Labs, the bike taxi service market is estimated at $150 million and is growing at 20% month-over-month. The growth has been possible mainly due to the consumer’s need for affordable means of transportation and closing the last mile connectivity gap.
Because bike taxis are more affordable than cabs and can zip through congested roads, they are popular among millennials. On average, a bike taxi ride costs INR 60-70, whereas a cab ride costs INR 200 for the same distance. The business model of bike taxi players largely depends on utilizing the large pool of two-wheeler owners in the country.
Opportunity For Bike Taxis In India
India is changing in all aspects and business and growth opportunities are now coming across Tier 2 and 3 cities. Allowing bikes to ply as taxis is also generating employment opportunities and supporting livelihoods as these services are popular because of the lack of regular public transport infrastructure in these cities.
Allowing use of bikes as taxis can therefore not only contribute to mobility but also boost earnings of delivery executives as an additional source of income.
Need And importance
The Indian government has recently announced the National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) focusing on urban transportation. NUTP has voiced the need for states to be more adopting of the changes in the mobility space using technology today.
India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market (an estimated 2 crores plus vehicle sold in 2018 i.e. 60,000 two-wheelers/day) and this undisputedly happens to be the preferred mode of transport to and from work, not to mention the rural stretches and narrow by-lanes of cities where there are a lifeline, thereby making the role of bike taxis even more important.
Any ideal transportation policy for any city should take all forms of transport into consideration that can best be deployed according to the demand, supply, price and local challenges into consideration.
Operation During Covid-19 Lockdown
With the current pandemic affecting life and business continuity, the transportation and travel industry has also been impacted. Sitting in the safety of our homes, one might wonder how these businesses are now plying without a viable customer to ferry and the demand for app-based rides decreasing.
That is where technologically sound businesses step in. It ensures that the business has the fluidity to adapt its operations to the changing nature and demands of the environment.
While in the current situation the supplies do make it to larger markets and stores in most areas, most businesses are heavily dependent on affordable last-mile connectivity options to reach the maximum number of customers, especially when they can’t step out themselves. For example, to ensure customers don’t have to step out to collect grocery items or medical supplies, etc., we accelerated our existing services to provide for the delivery of essential goods in partnerships with brands like Big Bazaar, Spencer Retail and Big Basket.
We are hoping the lockdown will be eased soon, and life would be bustling again, with everyone getting back on roads. During the initial period when the challenge arises for last-mile connectivity, bike taxis will be a boon to office goers.
The biggest advantage of riding a bike taxi instead of cabs and autos during the pandemic situation is, there aren’t many surfaces that the customer comes in contact with and is therefore much more protected. Additionally, the Captain sits facing away from the customer, keeping both safe from passing germs.
Currently, there aren’t many efficient and economical options for last-mile connectivity. The customer has to choose an auto or taxi or rely on the option of driving on their own or their personal vehicles. Hence, the gap is still wide, where the bike taxis fit suitably as a viable option.
We often hear necessity is the mother of invention. And rightly so, bike taxi service is an outcome of market demand and supply gap. The industry has a huge potential to grow as a large portion of the market is still to adopt and get hooked to the new ease in travelling. In a country that is developing, the solution to bridge the urbanisation gap and answer to the need for an effective and affordable transport seems to be bike taxis.