Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday became the first customer to book an e-rickshaw ride through a mobile app and pay the fare online. During his short ride at the ‘Stand up India’ launch event in Noida on Tuesday, Modi shared the ride with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik.
‘Stand up India’ aims to promote entrepreneurship among members of scheduled castes/scheduled tribes and women; it will provide a composite loan between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 100 lakh for setting up of new enterprises.
The vehicle that the PM rode on was one of the 5,100 e-rickshaws distributed at the event to beneficiaries from underprivileged sections of the society. He later took a ride to the dais from where he launched the ‘Stand Up India’ initiative. The e-rickshaws are to be distributed to people across Delhi-NCR. These include 2,000 for Ghaziabad and 1,000 each for Delhi, Gurgaon and Gautam Budh Nagar. Out of 5,100 beneficiaries, 151 were women.
The PM booked the vehicle through the app of cab aggregator service Ola. The vehicle was driven by Viajy Pandey, managing director of Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC), which facilitated the distribution of the vehicles.
“The PM was eager to board the e-rickshaw and later paid Rs 10 as fare for the distance. He paid the amount online (through the FreeCharge service), signifying the ease for vehicle owners and customers,” said Pandey.
“During the ride, he asked me about the category of beneficiaries who are to receive the e-rickshaws. He specifically told me to give priority to poor people who want to continue their children’s education and even more so for those who want their daughters to be educated,” he added.
With the booking of an e-rickshaw through its app, Ola has now forayed into the e-rickshaw category after its earlier cab and auto services in Delhi and NCR.
An Ola spokesperson said that the e-rickshaws will be deployed across Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad under a tie-up with BMC.
“This will be further scaled up in the coming months to smaller towns and tier-3 cities across the country. Each of the e-rickshaw operators will get a smartphone to connect to the Ola app and the customer. The base fare for exclusive hiring of an e -rickshaw would be Rs 25 for the first two kilometres and Rs 8 for further kilometres. We are also working on fares for shared hiring of e-rickshaws,” the spokesperson said.
In comparison, Ola’s cheapest car service, Micro, charges a base fare of Rs 40 and Rs 6/km and Rs 1/minute of ride time.
“The transportation needs of users in smaller towns and sustainable alternatives for cycle rickshaws will be solved with the introduction of e-rickshaws on the Ola app. These vehicles are affordable, environment-friendly and convenient to hail,” said Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer, Ola.
Ola and BMC are to also set up and run skill development centres in NCR towns to enable continuous skill and training for thousands of rickshaw driver-entrepreneurs.
“The government is committed to enabling better livelihoods through high-impact skill initiatives and opportunity creation. E-rickshaws are not only sustainable, but also a simple yet effective solution to the physically-taxing pedal rickshaw ride,” said Mahesh Sharma, Union minister of state for tourism and civil aviation.