Ola and Uber Drivers in Delhi Demand Introduction of Legislation on Motorbikes
18:31 21.02.2023 (Updated: 18:36 21.02.2023)
© AP Photo / Altaf QadriA man rides a bike in a deserted market area during a weekend lockdown in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 17, 2021.
© AP Photo / Altaf Qadri
Bike taxi service is quite new in India, and the 1988 Motor Vehicles Actdoes not apply to them. Since bikes are private vehicles, they cannot be used for commercial operations, like transporting passengers.
On a usual morning at around 10 am, Nikhil Awasthi usually books a motorbike service from Noida city to his office, located in the neighboring Mayur Vihar area of Delhi.
Today, however, it took him almost half-an-hour before the man finally reached the metro.
It turned out Awasthi had little idea that the motorbike taxi services have been banned in Delhi.
Delhi Gov't Ban on Bike Taxis
Hundreds of passengers like Awasthi sounded confused on learning about the ban on bike taxi services issued by local authorities just on the eve of Tuesday.
"Yes, I usually book bike taxi services via an app like Rapido or Ola to Mayur Vihar Phase 1. There are two reasons — it's cheap and bikes usually take less time than auto or public vehicles," Awasthi, who works at a shop in Mayur Vihar, shared with Sputnik.
He said that bike services usually cost him INR 80 to 100 (around $1) for one side of the 35-minute ride. Autos are generally unavailable for this route, and a cab would cost him thrice, which he finds unaffordable.
"So if the government has to ban it, why did they let cab aggregators introduce it in the first place?" Awasthi wondered.
All You Should Know About Commercial Motorbike Ban
In a notice issued on Monday, the Delhi governmen banned bike taxis with immediate effect, stating that the use of personal vehicles as commercial taxis violates Motor Vehicle Act 1988.
The government notice also stated that if app-based providers were found flouting rules or facilitating such operations, they could be fined up to INR 100,000 ($1,208).
The move has impacted not just bike riders themselvs, but also many customers that rely on two-wheelers via Ola, Uber, and Rapido amid surging fares for cabs.
Most of the people, who used to take a ride via two-wheelers, told Sputnik that motorbikes are an affordable mode of transport.
The Issue of Public Security
Commercial vehicles generally have a yellow number plate and private ones are white in India.
As per the country's law, the transport department does not give commercial licenses to motorbikes or two-wheelers due to a lack of regulations.
The 2019 Amendment to the Act also made it clear that aggregators cannot operate without a valid licence.
However, a transport department official told Sputnik that it's not just about commercial vehicles and private vehicles, but the safety of passengers also holds utmost concern to them.
"Unlike the four-wheeler cabs, two-wheelers have no provisions of an emergency button. In cars, the emergency button can usually alert the nearest police station or sometimes to apps emergency room. But, what to do in the case of two-wheelers and how do we identify them?" the official said.
Meanwhile, there was no immediate official word from all the three main bike service providers — Ola, Uber and Rapid on the government measures.
However, a few motorbike riders have turned a worried lot due to the Delhi government's new diktats, as they have loaned the bike for the purpose.
What Do Drivers Say About Ban on Bike Taxis
Sputnik spoke with a few motorbike drivers who used to wait for passenger ride service at metro stations and bus stops.
It's worth noting that these motorbikes services are not banned in Delhi's neighboring cities -- namely, in Gurugram (Haryana) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh) yet. So, one can easily find them before and after office hours.
"Yes, I came to know about the Delhi government notice. This is not right, instead of bringing new laws for us -- they just banned us. Why?" Aatur Singh, a Noida's Sector 62 Metro Station driver, told Sputnik.
Echoing Singh's view, another driver Rishabh Kumar lamented: "Had there been no need for us, motorbike mode would have never emerged this fast. Everyone knows we're cheaper than most of the options available for customers. So, in place of bringing down fuel prices and making public transport cheaper, they banned the cheapest way of transport."
Where Else Are Motorbike Services Banned in India?
First, Karnataka state's Bengaluru city, then-Maharashtra, and now Delhi banned ride-sharing applications on Monday.
Taxi and auto unions in states like Telangana and Maharashtra protested against this bike-based passenger service as people preferred to book bikes over autos due to cost factors.
Meanwhile, Rapido -- whose main business focuses on bike services, approached the Supreme Court of India in January on the Maharashtra government's ban on company motorcycle taxis.
Currently, the Motor Vehicle Act necessitates a license for aggregators to function. But Pune city's Regional Transport Office had rejected Rapido’s plea for a license in December 2021.
However, the country's top court directed it back to the Bombay High Court. The high court also asked the company to shut operations because it had no valid licence.
Meanwhile, as per a report published by Allied Market Research, India's motorbike taxi market was valued at $50.5 million and was expected to reach around $1.5 billion by 2030.
The report, however, also cautioned about the legality of these bike services.