For those of us in Delhi who rely on Uber, Ola, and Rapido bike taxis to get around, there is some really unpleasant news. Suddenly, the transportation department prohibited these services. In violation of the Motor Vehicle Act, it appears that the companies have been utilizing bikes with private registrations to transport people.
According to the notification from the transport department, any ride-sharing businesses that continue to provide bike taxi services in Delhi risk being fined Rs 5,000 for a first offense and Rs 10,000 plus jail time for any consecutive offenses. Also, the drivers’ licenses will be suspended for three years. Ouch!
Yet, more people than only the motorcyclists will have problems. If ride-sharing companies permit bike taxis to operate in the city, they risk receiving a Rs. 1 lakh fine.
These bike taxis have encountered controversy before. According to the Supreme Court, Rapido was conducting business illegally. Yet in January, the Maharashtra government rejected Rapido’s application for a license since there were no laws governing the licensing, safety, or pricing of motorbike taxis.
In response to the Maharashtra government’s refusal to issue a license to operate, Rapido, a bike taxi aggregator, recently requested redress from the Supreme Court of India. The court highlighted 2019 changes to the Motor Vehicles Act that stipulated a current license was required for commercial transportation. As a result, Rapido and other bike taxi services are currently operating in Maharashtra outside the law and risk legal ramifications.
Every day, thousands of Indians use reasonably priced motorbike taxis to cut through slow-moving traffic. Also, they give jobs to thousands of people, many of whom transport passengers on their personal motorbikes.
Yet, the Motor Vehicles Act prohibits the use of private vehicles in India for commercial purposes.
Some of the drivers in Delhi who were impacted by the prohibition were interviewed by the Indian Express newspaper, and they stated that they would struggle to get by without the extra money.
It’s not the first time that motorcycle taxis have run into legal issues.
Rapido’s motorbike taxis were denied licenses by the Maharashtra state government in January on the grounds that there were no legislative regulations governing their licensing, safety, and fee structures. The company was also ordered to cease operations by the Bombay High Court because it lacked a proper license.
When Rapido approached the Supreme Court, it was told to go back to the lower court.
Also, some gig workers have criticized these taxis. A Telangana state gig workers’ organization wrote to the government in December pleading with them to take action against private cars used as motorbike taxis.
In a survey released by Allied Market Research last year, the market for motorbike taxis in India was estimated to be worth $50.5 million and to grow to almost $1.5 billion by 2030.
The report issued a warning, noting that “legal challenges related to bike taxis and resistance from local public transport companies restrains the market expansion.”