K’taka govt unveils policy allowing electric bike taxis to operate

Bengaluru: In a bid to generate employment, bring down pollution and reduce dependence on private vehicles, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday unveiled the Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi scheme-2021 in Bengaluru
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Published on Jul 15, 2021 01:01 AM IST
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By Sharan Poovana

Bengaluru: In a bid to generate employment, bring down pollution and reduce dependence on private vehicles, chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday unveiled the Karnataka Electric Bike Taxi scheme-2021 in Bengaluru.

The unveiling of the policy comes after several attempts were made to resist the granting of licences to initiate two-wheeler taxi in the city.

Yediyurappa said that the new policy will lead to self-employment, eco-friendly environment, fuel conservation and strengthening public transport.

The chief minister added that the main objective is to reduce travel time for the public.

“This scheme will give opportunities for individuals, partnership firms and companies to participate. The vehicles registered under this scheme will be in the transport category for which the government has given several exemptions like permit , tax and is also giving financial benefits for the electric vehicles manufacturers,” a statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said, attributing it to Yediyurappa.

Despite being the technology and startup capital in the country, archaic laws that govern the transport department rules among other legislations has pit app-based cab aggregators against the Karnataka government several times in the past.

Soon after the launch of bike-taxis by cab-aggregators like Ola and Uber in 2016, the transport department cracked down on them, seizing vehicles since there were no provisions in existing laws.

However, the change in its position, bike-taxi providers said, would help nurture the ecosystem in a city that had been adjudged to have the worst traffic globally in 2019.

“We appreciate the Karnataka government’s decision to let e2W (electric two-wheeler vehicles) register as a commercial bike taxi. This is a long-awaited step in the right direction and will help people utilize their well-earned assets to earn a livelihood,” Aravind Sanka, co-founder, Rapido, a bike-taxi provider, told Hindustan Times on Wednesday.

“We are in talks with the state government to consider bikes as a taxi service and hope to see a similar development on this front as well. Rapido already has the infrastructure and demand from users that could be leveraged towards the cause. We are optimistic regarding bike taxi legality becoming a reality soon,” he added.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced more private vehicles on the roads due to the fear of contracting the virus in public transport. Bengaluru’s metro, one of its biggest and most expensive projects, is long-delayed with just 44kms of connectivity since 2007 in a city of nearly 800 sq kms.

“We love the new policy. This encourages and pushes EV (electric vehicle??). This also helps people without (a) scooter to rent a Bounce EV and run it as (an) E bike taxi. At Bounce we are in (the) best position to use our existing EV fleet for e bike taxis as well. This will also encourage employment/ part time jobs. People without scooters can use Bounce EV and start earning. We have in fact started training women from lower income groups to ride two wheelers and helping them become e-bike taxi riders using bounce EV,” Vivekananda Hallekere, the co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Bounce said.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021