Scooter-sharing companies need new rules to connect the last mile
ROADBLOCK: Existing rules do not address the use of such vehicles for point-to-point commuting.
For instance, Vogo and Bounce together plan to roll out between 60,000 and 100,000 bikes in Bengaluru over the next 12 months, but the high growth nature of these startups could easily overwhelm the city’s inadequate infrastructure. “One very critical aspect of this business is density. The availability of bikes will determine whether customers use us or not,” said Varun Agni, cofounder of Bounce. “It’ll take us a minimum of 30,000 bikes to even make a dent in the market (Bengaluru), which we plan to add in three to six months.”
Currently, these players come under the ‘Rent a Motorcycle Scheme, 1997’ which allows anyone with more than five vehicles to register as an operator. However, the scale of these startups far exceeds the regulation’s intent, say experts.
“Bike-sharing platforms have tremendous potential to grow, the question is about creating parking spaces,” said Vivek Vaidyanathan, lead (urban transport) at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy. “There should also be a regulatory framework to ensure there is no oversupply of such vehicles in Bengaluru.”
The existing rules also do not address the use of such vehicles for point-to-point commuting. With over 12,000 such scooters already on Bengaluru’s roads, new regulations are the need of the hour, industry watchers say. “The concept of rent-a-bike and rent-a-car is not new, but it’s becoming popular now. It definitely helps in solving first and last-mile connectivity for those who do not want to use cabs or autos,” said state transport commissioner VP Ikkeri.
City authorities, too, have seen value in the services that these companies offer. The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation is already providing dedicated parking slots for these scooter-renting companies at various stations.
“The authorities want more people to use mass transit, and data can give them confidence that this is happening,” said Anand Ayyadurai, cofounder of Vogo. “This will be useful for us as they’ll give us access to more amenities such as parking and maybe link us into their network for booking tickets.”
A unified transportation infrastructure is currently being built by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport, but this could take years. Until then, Vogo and Bounce will be forced to invest in their own parking bays at prominent locations across the city.
There is, however, a separate plan by the urban development department to provide dedicated pay and park facilities across the city, which the scooter-rental startups could use to buy a predetermined number of parking slots.