Karnataka may have put a stop to the operations of its bike taxis in lack of a proper policy to govern those, but ride-hailing major Ola, which is one of the earliest players to launch this mode of commuting, is seeing huge growth elsewhere, especially in smaller cities and towns across several states.
The Bengaluru-headquartered firm now claims Ola Bike has expanded to over 150 cities across the country, with a network of over 300,000 bike-partners. The firm is aiming to grow threefold in the next 12 months.
Karnataka was one of the first few states, including Haryana (Gurugram and Faridabad) and Rajasthan, where the Bhavish Aggarwal-run company launched bike taxi services in 2016. However, the Karnataka transport department earlier this year cracked down on this service alleging that the company was flouting the licence norms by using two-wheelers with white registration board and had subsequently imposed hefty penalty.
According to company sources, states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat, have allowed bike taxi service. Besides, there are several others which have allowed operation of bike taxis even though they don’t have specific laws with regard to this.
The company claims that it is seeing huge growth from tier-II, tier-III cities and towns in many states where users see bike taxis as the most convenient and cheapest mean for commuting in absence of proper taxi service.
For example, Ola Bike is operating in towns such as Gaya, Bikaner, Mughalsarai, Eluru, Guntur, Tirupati, Anand, Jamnagar, Ambala, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Ajmer, Bharatpur, Kota and Etawah.
The bike taxi charges commuters anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 7 per kilometre, depending on the road network. In addition to this, the company is also offering the personal accident cover for the riders with a token premium of Rs 1.
“With Ola Bike, the company is making inroads into the hinterlands of India, enabling hundreds of millions of Indians to have access to affordable, reliable and convenient on-demand transportation, something only their counterparts in larger cities thus far have been able to enjoy,” the company said in a statement.
“Ola Bike offers consumers, a smart, innovative and affordable mobility solution, an offering that truly reflects our mission to build mobility for a billion people. Ola Bike has enabled citizens from the smallest of towns such as Chapra in Bihar to large metropolitan areas such as Gurgaon with access to quick, reliable and affordable mobility,” said Arun Srinivas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Ola.
According to sources, Ola is presently engaged in a discussion with the new government in Karnataka to allow it operate bike taxis under the legal framework. “We are having healthy discussion with the government, and expecting an early break through,” sources added.