Promoting electric bike-taxis for clean transportation in India
India has been and continues to be a proponent of Shared Mobility. The country has low penetration of cars and relies instead on public transit and intermediate public transport, two-wheelers, and walking and cycling for its daily travel needs.
With this context, India must turn its attention to the humble yet all-pervasive two-wheeler (2W) as a means of mass transportation. Deploying motorbikes as taxis or bike-taxis in Indian cities and towns can be a very effective and efficient means to solve the public transport puzzle.
Bike-taxis as Last-Mile Connectors
With the increasing demand on urban transport in India, the country’s cities are slowing down.
As per a study, the average travel speed across 154 cities in India is 24.4 km/hr. India is the world’s largest two-wheeler market and around 1.2 crore two-wheelers were sold in 2021, which was a year marked with pandemic, and sales were hit for all vehicle types.
Given this background, bike-taxis can function as an important feeder mode providing connectivity that complements public transport systems. They can ensure that all parts of the city have easy access to rail and metro stations.
Bike-taxi operators in India
India has witnessed some popularity with bike-taxis in recent years. Some of the prominent players operating in this segment are Ola, Rapido, Mopedo, Bounce, MetroRide, UberMoto and Baxi.
|Company name||Operations detail||Electrification progress/Milestone achieved|
|Rapido||– As of August 2022, Rapido operated EV fleet in two cities – Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru|
– Has seen a 2-fold spike in demand in 2022, with daily rides outstripping supply in some cities
|– In May 2022, Rapido announced that it aims to electrify 25% of its two-wheeler fleet in the next three years|
|Bounce||– Offers e-bikes for rentals in the cities of Bengaluru, Vijayawada and Hyderabad||– In June 2019, Bounce had reached a significant milestone of 60,000 rides per day in Bengaluru|
|MetroRide||– Provides e-bike taxis in the cities of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi and Noida|
– Connects daily commuters to high-frequency hubs like metro stations, universities, and corporate parks within a 5km radius
|– In August 2021, MetroRide secured seed funding from angel investors spread across Silicon Valley, New Jersey and India.|
For Rapido, the increase in demand has been observed in most metropolitan and Tier-1 cities like Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, and Hyderabad. The major share of demand for Rapido’s bike-taxi service comes from metro cities, with 20% of the volume originating from non-metro cities such as Chandigarh, Coimbatore and Indore.
To electrify 25% of its two-wheeler fleet in next three years, Rapido is seeking to collaborate with fleet operators and OEMs. The company has also entered a strategic partnership with TVS Motor Co, to help strengthen its EV segment. In Delhi, the company had about 500 e-bikes, and in Bengaluru, about 100 e-bikes.
In July 2021, the state government of Karnataka announced the Electric Bike Taxi scheme to offer first- and last-mile connectivity. As of November 2022, three companies – Rapido, Bounce and MetroRide – had applied for e-bike taxi permits. However, the state transport department has not yet issued a permit to anyone.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) announced the roll out of its e-bike services from October 2022, for first and last mile connectivity across the city of Mumbai. In all, 1,000 e-bikes will be deployed by BEST at 180 bus stops as well as in commercial and residential areas. By June 2023, the fleet is likely to grow to 5,000 and provide services across the city. The project is being implemented in partnership with Vogo, a self-drive shared mobility company.
There are about 20 million motorcycle taxis globally: 2 million in Brazil, 1 million in Nigeria, and 0.2 million in Bangkok, including both conventional and app-based service providers. Bike-taxis are a runaway success in countries like Indonesia, which suffer traffic congestions worse than India. Jakarta, with the record of being the worst city for traffic stops and starts (33,240 times a year on average) has shown an average driver move only 8.3 km in an hour.
State Initiatives- Delhi’s mandate to convert vehicles of aggregators to all-electric by 2030 – A case in point
The state of Delhi announced the Delhi Motor Vehicle Aggregator Scheme on July 5, 2022. The notification issued by the state government mandates conversion of vehicles by aggregators to an all-electric fleet, in phases by April 1, 2030.
Within first 6 months from the day of notification of the scheme, the aggregators of 2W commercial vehicles are required to have 10% of all new onboarded fleets to be EVs.
Such mandates can be declared by other state governments as well, which can go a long way in enabling electric bike-taxis in major cities and towns in India.
With right policies, both at the Central and State level, and an urban transport design facilitating such transport, electric bike-taxis can become the front-runners in transporting India’s population at large. The bike-taxis can also be a significant contributor in achieving the country’s GHG emission reduction commitments. All things being said, now is the time to act and promote usage of electric bike-taxis in large cities and small towns of India for a better future of mobility in the country.
 ‘Mobility and Congestion in Urban India’ by Prottoy A. Akbar and others