It had been a bumpy ride in Bangalore for UberMOTO, Uber’s bike taxi service, but it looks like it has finally come to an end. On Wednesday, Uber suspended all UberMOTO services in Bangalore with immediate effect. The move comes after drives by RTO resulted in the seizure of its bikes.
UberMOTO had a short but eventful journey in the country’s IT capital. It was launched on 2nd March, and hours after its announcement, rival Ola announced its own bike taxi service. Both services were met with encouraging responses, with people using them to commute through Bangalore’s gridlocked traffic.
But trouble had begun shortly after the introduction of the service – the Bangalore transport authorities had cracked down on the aggregators, seizing bikes and imposing fines. They contended that bikes could not be used as taxis as per Bangalore laws, and Uber and Ola’s bike, which did not have yellow number plates, couldn’t have been used as commercial vehicles anyway.
Ola had complied with the directive and had suspended its services, but Uber had pulled off a masterstroke. It had rebranded Uber Moto as a bike sharing service, and had stopping charging commission on rides. This had meant that UberMOTO wasn’t a commercial service anymore, and therefore didn’t any rules. Uber then went ahead and launched UberMOTO in Bangalore under a similar model.
The drives by RTO in Bangalore, though, continued, and Uber saw the seizure of many of its two wheelers. The transport department had also filed cases against owners of the two-wheelers who had attached their vehicles with aggregators. They were booked for violating norms, for they used private vehicles for a commercial purpose. To release their vehicles, owners of the two-wheelers had paid a penalty of Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 each.
Uber appears to have finally given in and suspended its services. “In spite of our best efforts, we have not been able to get any clarity on rules from government and we regret to inform that we will be suspending Moto effective immediately.”, the company said in a text message to its drivers.
Update: Uber contacted OfficeChai and gave the following statement: “Earlier this year we rolled out the pilot of uberMOTO in Bangalore – our first two-wheeled ridesharing service in India’s IT City. Today, we are pressing pause on the pilot while we share our learnings and work with the government to create modern regulations for app-based motorbike services.“