Over 1,500 bike taxi drivers in Delhi have petitioned Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena, requesting an equitable timeline for transitioning to electric vehicles (EVs) as their peers in the delivery sector. Their plea followed the approval by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of a regulatory scheme for aggregators in passenger transport and delivery services. This regulation extends to bike taxis and necessitates that aggregators incorporate electric two-wheelers for passenger services.
The bike taxi drivers’ letter highlights their concerns, stating that the new scheme effectively permits only electric bike taxis to operate in Delhi, rendering those using other fuel types illegal. They express their apprehensions about the loss of livelihoods, particularly in the context of soaring inflation and the challenges of surviving in a metropolitan area.
The drivers emphasize that bike taxis serve as their primary income source, and some rely on both bike taxis and food delivery to make ends meet. They call for a consistent policy for all bikes, requesting a comparable transition timeline to EVs as afforded to the delivery sector.
The drivers acknowledge the government’s intent to shift to electric vehicles and reduce pollution but stress that a sudden transition to electric bike taxis threatens their livelihoods. They point out that the electric vehicle ecosystem, particularly for bikes, is still in the nascent stages, with limited options available in the market to support bike taxi operations due to constraints in battery capacity and charging infrastructure.
In contrast, the delivery sector has been provided with a more gradual transition to electric vehicles. The drivers highlight the discrepancy and warn that if all bike taxi drivers switch to delivery platforms, it would oversaturate the market with drivers, resulting in reduced incomes and stagnant pollution levels in the city.
The letter underscores the critical role of bike taxi drivers in providing last-mile connectivity to major transport hubs. It also emphasizes that their customers are typically from low-income backgrounds or are students seeking affordable transportation options.