Commuters will soon have another transport option as the decks have been cleared to introduce electric bike (e-bike) taxi services in the State.
Other than big players, the State government will also allow individuals to register an e-bike as a taxi to earn a livelihood. S/he will be allowed to attach the vehicle with an aggregator or operate independently.
The Transport Department will allow pillion riders (customers) to book e-bike taxis to travel only for a distance of 10 km. Officials say the main aim of e-bike taxis is to act as feeder services for Namma Metro and city buses. The fare structure will be notified at a later stage. The department is likely to introduce fares in two stages – five and 10 km.
Comprehensive guidelines will be released by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa on Wednesday. The government will allow e-bikes only in urban centres. Aggregators interested in operating e-bike taxis have to obtain a licence in each city. The Chief Minister had announced introduction of e-bike taxis in the previous Budget.
Sources in the department said e-bike taxis will be allowed with various riders, such as mandatory installation of GPS, ‘bike taxi’ to be written predominately on the vehicles, insurance coverage for rider as well as customer, mandatory wearing of helmets, and antecedent check of the riders.
A senior official said: “In Bengaluru, allowing e-bike taxis will help reduce pollution and provide public an economical option to travel short distances. At present, in many places, due to narrow roads, bus connectivity to metro stations is not possible in a radius of five to 10 km.”
In the past, aggregators such as Ola, Uber, Rapido, and others tried to introduce bike taxi services in the city by attaching personal bikes of riders (white-board vehicles). But the department took strong objection and impounded hundreds of vehicles, making owners pay heavy penalty for using private vehicles for commercial purposes. Officials had said that bike taxis will not be allowed in the absence of guidelines.