Bengalureans want bike taxis back on roads

Bengaluru City Karnataka

Students say that they were an affordable option

Bengaluru’s commuters are unhappy over the transport department’s decision to seize bike taxis. They found them more affordable and easier to use than auto rickshaws and cabs.

The Regional Transport Office (RTO) started seizing Rapido bikes and charging fines saying they are illegal under the Motor Vehicles Act. This led to an agitation by both Rapido drivers and commuters.

Several regular Rapido users The Observer spoke with shared that they prefer bike taxis to cabs and auto rickshaws.

Ayush Singh, 26, who used Rapido bike taxis regularly, said: “Being a student who is always on a budget, Rapido is the cheapest option. I could travel long distances at a fraction of the cost I will have to pay for cabs.”

Anisha Jain, 22, a media communications student, has a similar view.  “The bike rides are very safe and extremely economical. Using them saves a lot of time as they don’t get stuck in traffic. It is problematic how the transport department is stopping them from operating. They are the best option for Bengaluru city. Cab and autorickshaw fares are very high. I am forced to pay these…,” she said.

Sahil  Chodhary, a Bengaluru-based coder, said: I don’t understand why they are not being given a licence to operate in the city.”

Bhuvan Prasad, another student unhappy with the situation, said: “Bike taxis were a very fast and affordable option for students like us in the city. It is wrong and sad that they are being banned in the city. Their fare is almost 50 per cent less than (that of) cabs, making them affordable for us.”

Rapido bike taxi drivers, or captains, are people who get attached to the company and are paid a commission. They use their private vehicles to operate the bike taxis.

Rajesh K, a captain, said: “We are just trying to do our jobs. We just want to earn a living but now they have started seizing our bikes.  Many were even charged fines of Rs 10,000. We can’t even afford to pay that much money. Autorickshaw drivers, too, threaten us because people prefer bike taxis to autos.”

Rapido officials refused to comment on the situation.

Rapido drivers have been getting threats from auto rickshaw drivers and cab drivers in the city.

Devegowda M, a senior regional transport officer, informed The Observer that bike taxis are illegal in the city. “The RTO has been seizing these bike taxis because they are not permitted to operate in the state. This is not something new. Transport department officials have been penalizing bike taxi drivers since the company started operating in 2015.”  A fine of Rs 10,000 is levied.

“I understand that people are not very happy with this, but for us, pillion safety is of the utmost importance. Also, they can’t operate without permission,” he added.

As many as 120 Rapido bike taxis were seized by the RTO in a day, according to a report in The Hindu. The action came after many auto rickshaw and cab unions filed complaints against bike taxis. Using a whiteboard vehicle is illegal. Most Rapido bike taxis are whiteboard vehicles. In 2021, Rapido appealed to be allowed to operate bike taxis in the city.


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