Why bike taxis are the best option for last-mile connectivity during coronavirus
With the ease in lockdown restrictions, we have now moved to the Unlock 2.0 phase. Everyone stepping out on the road is wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing. As mandated under the government’s rules and regulations, few offices have reopened and started operating with minimum capacity.
However, one of the biggest challenges that most commuters are facing today is commuting to and fro, while maintaining safety.
This is particularly challenging for people who have to rely on public transportation for commuting every day. Even though the safety standard protocols adhere to the strictest checks, there is no denying that these modes of transportation have multiple surface touchpoints and are riskier to travel.
Customers used to public transport are now looking for a viable and affordable solution to travel daily. Shared mobility is not a new concept in India but has recently gained popularity because of its technology-backed infrastructure that helps people travel with ease and in a much efficient manner.
One such mobility option is a bike taxi. Bike taxis have become the one-stop solution for this conundrum. With minimum interaction with driver-partners and minimum touchpoints, the safety of riding a bike taxi is much higher than other modes of transportation.
Bike taxis in India and their benefits
Mobility in India is at an inflection point owing to increasing ownership of private vehicles and a growing population. A shared ecosystem enables efficient asset utilisation in the transportation industry.
Even though shared mobility includes all forms of transportation, two-wheeler sharing services are encouraged by the government as well as environmental protection agencies. From an affordability point of view, bike taxis are slowly and steadily gaining traction as a cost-effective solution to last-mile connectivity gaps across cities in India.
On average, a bike taxi ride costs Rs 60-70, whereas a cab ride costs Rs 200 for the same distance. It offers commuters a much more convenient, accessible, affordable, and safer option. In certain cases, it is even cheaper or equal to public transport.
According to a report by P&S Intelligence, the Indian two-wheeler sharing market was valued at $31.1 million in 2019, and is predicted to generate a revenue of $94 million by 2025, during the forecast period (2020–2025). The report highlights that the largest demand in 2018 was created for bike taxis and the category is predicted to register faster growth in demand during the forecast period.
One of the advantages of a well-regulated bike taxi ecosystem is that it creates large-scale employment opportunities which are much needed in our country. It is a suitable transportation option to achieve the PM’s vision for the future of mobility in India. With almost 70 percent of the vehicles on the Indian roads being two-wheelers, it is not difficult for the bike taxi industry to flourish.
The missing gaps
One of the most daunting challenges the companies still face is regulatory hurdles as a uniform legal framework does not exist and regulations vary from state to state. Although bike taxis are proven to be extremely helpful tools for daily commutes, they are not yet completely accepted in many Indian states.
However, a wave of change is gradually coming forth and states like Uttarakhand are working towards building a regulatory framework for allowing bike taxis across, with the understanding that it will create over 20,000 jobs and at the same time, reduce traffic.
Another challenge is maintaining safety while riding as a pillion. Companies are ensuring the safety of passengers through several initiatives and changes to its service protocols. For example, Rapido has asked our customers to carry their helmet and no cancellation charges for cancelling a ride where our driver-partners, whom we call ‘Captains’, come without wearing a mask.
We have made some mandatory guidelines for our Captains to follow like installing the Aarogya Setu app before they can go on-duty to start accepting orders, wearing a mask at all times and carry sanitisers, hair net in addition to the mandatory helmets, maintain personal hygiene, and sanitise their bikes at regular intervals.
Especially, sanitising the pillion seat before onboarding customers in addition to wearing a mask at all times. Captains will also get a checklist of items and declaration that they must adhere to before accepting rides. This will be done every time a Captains goes online.
A 2018 report by NITI Aayog stresses the importance of bike-sharing for last-mile connectivity and mentioned it as an affordable transit mode. It positions India to be a leader in shared mobility, with shared miles expected to reach 35 percent of all the miles travelled by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.
India’s young population and a growing startup culture will drive this shift from ownership to users, supported by a robust and practical framework for shared mobility.
Currently, there aren’t many options for last-mile connectivity that are economical and efficient. Hence, the gap is still wide where bike taxis fit suitably as a viable option.
A spearheading idea like bike taxi is a progressive step towards the future of mobility. City planners should embrace the flexibility bike taxis provide for commuters that will help build more employment opportunities in the country.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)