Despite the police and the Transport department cracking down on bike taxis, Rapido, a Bengaluru-based bike taxi service provider continues to run operations illegally risking the lives of the public. .
Transport Commissioner C Samayamoorthy said that it is illegal to operate the bike taxis as they flout Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989. He added that action would continue to be taken against them.
An official of the Regional Transport Office in Chennai said that bike taxis pose several risks. “What if there is an accident? Who will be responsible for the safety of the passengers and the riders? If they have not registered under the Motor Vehicles Act, how will we hold them responsible for any untoward incident?” he said.
“On the one hand, bike taxis offer convenient last-mile connectivity, but there are concerns about the safety and security of passengers. For example, a passenger will not get insurance in case of an accident. Bike taxis require a clear policy and guidelines,” the official said.
Also, a bike taxi cannot run on a whiteboard and it needs to have a yellow board. “A motor vehicle has to be compulsorily registered as a transport vehicle and vehicles cannot be a part of such platforms without being registered with a yellow number plate for commercial purposes,” the transport commissioner said in the affidavit filed in the Madras High Court on July 5 challenging the illegal operation of bike taxis.
In the affidavit, the commissioner added that use of personal vehicles for commercial purposes can be dangerous for citizens and to public health, and their plying or intending to ply as taxis goes against the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
Pointing out that there are no provisions for the regulation of aggregators in Tamil Nadu, the commissioner told the court that a proposal on regulating the aggregators has been sent to the government and is under consideration. “Once the aggregators are regulated, the Transport department will have control over them,” he said.
Despite the crackdown on the bike taxis, people continue to patronise bike aggregators as it offers a cheap mode of transport and helps with last-mile connectivity. “I use bike taxis when I am travelling alone because it is easy on the pocket. I pay one-fourth or one-third of what I would have to pay for a cab ride. I can also reach the destination quicker while travelling on bikes than in cabs considering the heavy traffic during peak hours,” said R Raghunathan, a resident of Kotturpuram. He said he paid Rs 54 for a ride from his home at Kotturpuram to Egmore.
Another regular user of bike taxis, requesting anonymity, said the pillion rider has to wear a helmet during the bike ride. “The bike taxi company also offers personal accident insurance coverage worth Rs 5 lakh during the time of the ride,” he said.
Meanwhile, the assistant commissioner of police, cybercrime cell, had on July 6 written to the legal department of the Google LLC in USA and the Apple India Private Ltd in Bengaluru to block or remove the Rapido app from Google Play Store and App Store to prevent its use in Tamil Nadu since they violated the Motor Vehicle Act 1989.
An official of the Rapido, said they have been facilitating bike-pooling through their service. “Through the use of the Rapido app, a private motorcycle rider while travelling between pre-determined points may offer the pillion seat to others who may be travelling anywhere between those points at the same time. Commuters can respond to the offer on the app and occupy the seat in return for a pre-determined fee charged by the rider, which is the payment towards fuel expenses.” Rapido doesn’t employ riders and there’s no profit involved in the use of bike pooling services, the official said.