Bangalore based on-demand shuttle service ZipGo has had a stormy relationship with Bangalore’s RTO. Late last year, the transport authority had raided ZipGo’s offices claiming that its services were illegal. ZipGo had gone off the roads, only to make a quiet return a few days later. This time ZipGo’s in trouble again, and its founders are appealing for help.
At 2 am last night, ZipGo sent a mail somberly titled “ZipGo needs your help to avoid service disruptions” to all its customers. “We are writing to inform you that due to RTO issues ZipGo services will not be available today. We are also writing to seek your help and support in the matter.”, the mail began. It went on to say that the RTO department had developed a “severe dislike” to ZipGo.
Allegedly the RTO doesn’t want its services to run because it competes directly with state-run BMTC buses.
“They are operating illegally. They have to obtain a permit, a stage carriage permit, but they won’t get it here because it’s the same area as the BMTC. Because of this they can’t operate,” said Ramegowda, Karnataka’s commissioner for transport and road safety.
Zipgo claims that all the vehicles on its platform comply with all the regulations and laws, most specifically, Section 2(7) of the Motor Vehicles Act that deals with the Contract Carriage Permits. Since Zipgo doesn’t pick and drop people unless they’ve booked a ride and thus getting into a contract with Zipgo, RTO’s logic doesn’t apply.
Shuttle aggregators in Delhi had also run into similar issues with the Delhi government, and had their services briefly suspended. A compromise was however reached, and these shuttles are again plying on Delhi roads. Uber and Ola had also run afoul of local governments when they’d first started operations.
The 6 month old on-demand AC shuttle company has grown fast and its app has over 100,000 downloads. The app had found favour with the commuters looking for alternatives to paying sky high cab fares or driving through Bangalore’s nightmare traffic. However, the government is not making things easy for the well-meaning startup. The ZipGo vehicles have been getting seized at random and the higher-ups in the government refuse to lay off.
Its founders are now appealing to the public to send them emails of support on [email protected], which will then be forwarded to the Karnataka Transportation Ministry. “So, if you feel that ZipGo has made a positive difference in your everyday life, or that the government should promote entrepreneurship, or that the RTO needs to stop its high-handed approach, or that the RTO should engage in constructive dialogues with technology start-ups to find solutions rather than trying to shut down every transportation start-up, you should send a mail,” the company says.
The Indian central government recently got its top minister to address the nations startups as a part of Startup India. The podium on these speeches boldly proclaimed “UnObstacle”, referring to the decreased governmental regulation that would help startups flourish. Now it’s time for the government to put it into action.