Uber’s cat and mouse game with the Bangalore Traffic authorities just refuses to end. One thought that Uber had one-upped the competition by branding itself as a ridesharing service in order to let its bike taxis run, but it turns out that Bangalore’s traffic cops have other plans – in a fresh round of activity, the Bangalore police has seized at least 15 bikes belonging to the company.
“Uber does not have the requisite permission to operate bike taxis. After the raid last time, the company told us they will abide by rules, but they have restarted services,” said Narendra Holkar, joint commissioner at the Karnataka transport department. The vehicles impounded in the latest raid face the risk of having their registration suspended for at least three months, he added.
Uber had launched its bike taxis in Bangalore a month ago, and Ola had followed suit with the launch of its service hours later. Things had gone well for a few until until the Bangalore authorities had decided to intervene – they’d impounded over 80 bikes claiming that they did not have the requisite permits to operate in the city.
After the Bangalore authorities’ objections, Ola had complied and shut down its service, but Uber had come up with a masterstroke – it rebranded as a bike sharing service overnight. By not charging any service fees from either the drivers or the riders, Uber became just an intermediary to provide people a means to share rides, and hence its bikes could not be classified as taxis any more.
But Bangalore’s authorities’ latest move might put Uber’s latest model into question. Bangalore is the only city where bike taxis have seen such opposition from the authorities – several bike taxi companies operate in Gurgaon, and Uber had launched its own bike taxi service there last week.