Karnataka’s Transport Dept. receives first application for e-bike taxis

But before issuing the licence, Govt. has to approve and notify fare structure

Six months after unveiling the ‘Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi Scheme’, the Transport Department has received only one application for a licence from Bengaluru-based mobility solutions platform, Bounce.

Transport Commissioner N. Shivakumar told The Hindu that the State Government would come out with a notification on fixing bike taxi fares, after which the application seeking a licence would be processed. “We received the application a few weeks ago. Unless bike taxi fares get notified, a licence cannot be issued. We are corresponding with the Government on fixing the fare structure,” said Mr. Shivakumar.

When contacted, a spokesperson from Bounce acknowledged that the firm had approached the Karnataka State Transport Authority to operate the e-bike taxis.

Decision on rates

While releasing the scheme, the department had announced that fares would fall in two slabs: ₹25 for the first 5 km and ₹50 thereafter till 10 km. The State Government is also considering feasibility of another fare structure. Sources said that is considering ₹10 as a base price for the first 2 km and thereafter ₹10 for every 2 km (₹50 up to 10 km). The Government is likely to come out with a notification by selecting either one of the two fare structures.

In July 2021, the State Government introduced a policy allowing private players, individuals, firms, and aggregators to run electric bike taxis in Bengaluru. Citizens can avail of the service for a maximum distance of 10 km. It stated that the distance covered by a passenger would be measured on the basis of an odometer fitted on the bike. Minors below the age of 15 have been prohibited from using bike taxis.

Not many takers

The scheme did not receive the expected response. A senior Transport Department official attributed it to various factors. “The foremost reason is that we are allowing only e-bikes to operate as taxis. At present, aggregators running taxi business have provided mobile app platforms by attaching vehicles of drivers. They are not making huge investments on the vehicles, but are earning money by providing business to drivers. If they apply the same module to e-bike taxis, it may take time,” said the official. He added that it would also take time for people to invest in e-bikes and run them as taxis.

The scheme was introduced with the aim of improving first- and last-mile connectivity from metro stations and bus stops. If it takes off, it is likely to provide an affordable commuting option for the general public for short-distance travel.

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