App-based ride hailing companies Ola and Uber have added motorcycles as a category on their platforms, which they are piloting in the southern city of Bengaluru. Both companies hope ‘bike taxis’ will appeal to customers looking to make short trips in the city that’s famous for its chock-a-block traffic.
Uber has set its base tariff to ferry passengers at Rs 15, while Ola will charge customers a minimum of Rs 30.
“We are very excited to pilot uberMOTO in Bengaluru — pairing our on-demand technology platform with motorbikes, the predominant mode of transport in India,” said Amit Jain, president of Uber India.
“uberMOTO will offer another affordable mobility option that will help people save time and money while helping cut congestion in our cities over time.”
Bengaluru, home to a large number of technology companies, research institutions and start-ups, has the highest density of vehicles in the country — 5.6 million vehicles for a population of around 10 mn. Of this, two-wheelers constitute 3.84 mn or 69 per cent of the total vehicle population in the city.
Both Ola and Uber are positioning their bike taxi services as their most affordable offering. Uber will charge Rs 3 per km in addition to Rs 1 per minute, while Ola will charge customers Rs 2 per km in addition to Rs 1 per minute. The launch of these bike taxi services comes shortly after Uber and Ola introduced carpooling as options on their platform. Ola has also launched Ola Shuttle, a shuttle bus service aimed at filling the gap in the inadequate public transport systems that many of India’s cities are plagued with.
Uber’s decision to launch bike taxi’s in India comes a week after launching a similar service in Bangkok, taking it further away from its roots of being a luxury limousine service in San Francisco. The company had earlier experimented with offering autorickshaws on its platform in Delhi. However, it later withdrew the service.
Homegrown rival Ola continues to offer autos as an option on its platform, charging customers Rs 10 above the regular metered fare, which auto drivers pay as a fee for being listed on its platform.
“With bike taxis, we are enabling safe pillion rides for our users with trained two-wheeler drivers at competitive fares. We expect significant demand in the pilot phase and we will continue to scale this service up in the coming weeks to cover more areas in the city and serve more users,” stated Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer at Ola.
Bike taxis are a growing segment of the app-based ride hailing market in India, with newer firms choosing not to enter the cab market given Ola and Uber’s dominance. Companies such as ‘Hey Bob’ and ‘Rapido’ already operate in the space and the entry of the two large players could send a few shivers down the competition’s spine.
Both Uber and Ola will allow hailing of bike taxis similar to how one would hail cabs on their services. Users will also have access to features such as tracking riders on GPS, sharing trip details with friends and SOS functions.
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