After banning Ola’s bike taxi service and fining the cab aggregator Rs. 15 lakh for operating bike taxis illegally in Bengaluru, the government of Karnataka’s regional transport office (RTO) has trained its guns on Rapido, another bike taxi service said to be illegally operating in Bengaluru. 170 motorcycles attached to Rapido have been seized by transport authorities, and officials are likely to slap the service with a fine of about 10.2 lakh rupees (Rs. 6,000 per bike) before releasing the 170 motorcycles that have been seized.
Narendra Holkar, additional commissioner of transport, said,
We had issued notices to Rapido directing the company to immediately suspend the bike taxi services. The department is not satisfied with their response and would be taking legal steps to ensure they stop the operations.
Gnanendra Kumar, Joint Commissioner (Enforcement) said,
We are filing a charge-sheet in these cases and the registration certificate of the bikes will also be confiscated,” he said. While the seizure will continue, we will book a case against Rapido for allowing the use of whiteboard two- wheelers for commercial purposes. This is against the Motor Vehicle Act. Drivers should also refrain from operating in their platform.
Interestingly, the Ola and Uber Driver’s Association in Bengaluru is said to have flagged off the issue, calling out Rapido for operating a taxi service with motorcycles running white boards. This is in contravention to the Motor Vehicles Act, which prescribes that all vehicles operating as taxis need to have a commercial (yellow-coloured) number plate.
Rapido is a smartphone app-based bike taxi aggregating service, which is similar to Uber and Ola in terms of how the service operates – connecting passengers to bike taxi riders. However, Rapido focuses on much shorter, ‘last mile’ intra-city commutes compared to the longer distance intra-city commutes that Ola and Uber focus on. Rapido is mainly aimed at providing a quick and effective option for passengers alighting buses and Metro trains to reach nearby destinations.
Rapido is a lot more cheaper than cabs operated under Uber and Ola, and cost conscious passengers in India are likely to take to bike taxi services in a big way. Such bike taxi services are very popular in South East Asian countries but is yet to catch on in a big way in India. Across cities, such bike taxi start-ups have faced opposition from state governments as well as cab operators. While the former cite illegalities in such a service, the latter cite a fall in business.
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