Saturday, February 24, 2024

Auto, taxi unions OK with electric bike-taxis, but not petrol version

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Bengaluru: Toning down their outright opposition to bike-taxis, the city’s autorickshaw and taxi drivers said on Monday they are only against petrol-run bike-taxis. They were speaking at a meeting called by transport minister B Sriramulu on Monday. Sriramulu said a decision on bike-taxis will be taken in a week.

Tanveer Pasha, president of Ola Uber Drivers and Owners Association, said: “The transport department has already formulated a policy that allows only electric bike-taxis in the city. But Rapido has been running petrol-run bike-taxis illegally. We are opposing whiteboard two-wheelers being used as bike-taxis.”

He alleged that both Ola and Uber have been running cabs without licence. “The government should either register all taxis under Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation or start an app-based cab service like the one operated by Goa government,” he said.

K Radhakrishna Holla, president of Karnataka State Travel Owners Association, said: “Personal vehicles being used for bike-taxis and carpooling is illegal. Instead of petrol-run bikes, they should allow only electric bike-taxis.”

He said the government should block Rapido’s URL. “If there is an untoward incident or assault against women in bike-taxis, who will be responsible?” he asked.

Hundreds of bikes attached to Rapido were seized by the authorities for operating without permission. Rapido has been operating non-electric bike-taxis in the city since 2016, and the app-based two-wheeler rental firm Bounce has expressed interest in operating electric bike-taxis. According to Karnataka Electric Bike-Taxi Scheme-2021, permits will be given to agents/canvassers and individuals. The distance from origin and destination of a trip should not be more than 10km. The licensee should charge a flat fare in two slabs: up to 5km and for 5-10km.

L Hemantha Kumar, additional commissioner for transport, said: “We had written to the Centre to block the URL of Rapido for illegally operating petrol-run bike-taxis. But the Centre said they cannot do it unless there is a threat to national security. We will take a decision on Rapido as per the high court order. We are processing the application filed by Bounce to run electric bike-taxis. We are hoping more operators will come forward to run such bike-taxis in the city for last-mile connectivity.”

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