Mumbai: Uber's bike taxis operating
'without RTO's approval'

In this lockdown, the number of two-wheelers on road is heavily visible. Among these are those two-wheelers running as ‘bike share’ on the Uber platform. However, the Maharashtra Transport department has not given any permission for such bike taxis in the state. If one remembers then, earlier in November last year, another bike taxi body called Rapido was asked to stop their services as no permission was granted by the Regional Transport Office.

These bike share services of Uber are on their App which is part of the options shown to users. Although the number of two-wheelers available seems scanty as most of the time it shows ‘No Bikes Available’, one can still find them during peak hours. “We have not given any permission to any bike taxi operator,” said Avinash Dhakne, Transport Commissioner.

According to RTO officials, these two-wheelers are namely plying on busy routes on which the bikers already want to travel to their destination. “What we understand is that these App-based two-wheeler taxis operate especially on the highways, railway stations, or for dropping to a local market place or mall,” said an RTO officer on condition of anonymity.

When Free Press Journal tried this mode of transport on Uber, the booking took few minutes as initially there weren’t any bikes available but after some time a motorbike accepted the ride-booking. It took the rider at least 10 minutes to arrive at the pick-up point. The bike seemed to be in a good condition and the driver was not rash in driving.

“Even I started on this platform recently. I have my own business but as this will generate additional income, I took it up. I had been getting messages from Uber for the past few days and so decided to give it a try,” said the driver who received more than 80 percent of the fare at the end of the journey. The fare comes lesser than the revised auto-rickshaw fare.

The government authorities though are sceptical about this bike taxi namely due to safety and security reasons. The RTO officials feel that owing to the number of two-wheeler accidents, they are unsure about the safety of passengers sitting pillion. As per the latest figures of road accidents in Mumbai, in 2020 there were 1590 mishaps that led to 264 fatalities. Of these 41 percent of the total road accident deaths involve two-wheelers.

The mobile aggregator Uber didn’t respond to either of the queries, that is the number of two-wheelers running on the ‘bike share’ platform or about the permissions they have to operate them.

Earlier last November, another bike taxi operator called Rapido started services in Mumbai. However soon they were asked to shut shop by the Transport department which cited it to be illegal. They were supposed to expand their services by inducting 2 lakh bike drivers in two years. Last month, bike taxi platform Rapido announced the launch of rental services in at least six cities across the country barring Mumbai.

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