Long gone are the days where one would stand on the side of the road hailing "Auto" or "Taxi". Thanks to the latest transportation apps, we can now book our rides without breaking a sweat right from where we are. And after micro, sedan, and prime cab rides, now you can also ride pillion!
A company began operating in Chennai through which one can book a bike ride through a mobile app to and from the destination of their choice. Founded by Rishikesh SR, Pavan Guntupalli and Aravind Sanka in October 2015, the company currently has 10K active drivers. It also provides an opportunity for people with a two-wheeler to become a 'Captain' on the platform to make some extra money in their spare time by offering a ride.
The app, though functional in currently 25 cities across India, has come under the scrutiny of the Madras High Court. The government had objected against the services of the company in the state as it did not come under the scope of the Motor Vehicles Act, banning operations in Tamil Nadu. The state submits that the proposal to bring out legislation is under consideration and within a period of four months, they would be able to bring the legislation. But till then the city will have to heed the ban.
"I don't understand the need for the ban. When apps exist for booking cars, what is wrong in booking two- wheelers, that basically does the same thing as the car?" asks IT worker Sivamanikandan. "I have an early morning shift and going to work in a cab takes a really long time due to peak hour traffic. Two wheeler allows us to go through shortcuts and small roads making commute faster. And it would be nice if I could earn money along the way by picking up someone who needs to go somewhere along my route or even if I was that someone who needed transport", he adds.
There are those of course who question the safety and precautions of riding pillion with a stranger.
Baghyalakshmi says, "I have a daughter and of course I wouldn't be comfortable letting her ride on the backseat of a stranger's bike. Though there are lady drivers as well, it would only apply if there was a guarantee that a woman would be paired with a woman driver which is not there. I don't think this type of transport is suitable for everyone, specially young teens".
"I drive a private van and often go on long distance drives. I recently came across the idea of motorbike cab service. Having seen my dad drive an auto and knowing the demand for travel vehicles personally, I think it is a great idea and the amount of background checks they do on the driver is also good. It was a good idea for an additional source of income for my family. It wasn't much work and I could do the drop offs on the way to other locations as well. But I heard about the ban and didn't take it up," says Murugan. With 38 bike-taxis having been seized by the Regional Transport officials for running their services illegally through the app without permission, Murugan feared it wold affect his van service reputation.
What holds for the future of bike taxis is yet to be known as the High Court formulates a new set of regulations. But the app certainly seems to be doing well in other states and has also seen an increase in the number of women drivers....