Soon, commuters in Bangalore, India will no longer have to worry about last-mile connectivity. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), which operates the mass transit system servicing the city, wants to provide app-based taxi services to its customers.
In a tender called on Dec 3rd, BMRCL said it is inviting bidders for a two-year exclusive licence to operate taxi services to its commuters. The successful bidder can set-up two kiosks each at 30 metro stations under BMRCL’s network for booking purposes and these will be located near entry and exit points of each station.
“The ‘First Mile to Last Mile’ connectivity is a major challenge in public urban transportation system,” says BMRCL, adding it has been “making efforts to bridge this gap in various ways.”
According to BMRCL’s announcement, the initiative is aimed at giving commuters more options in terms of getting to and from its stations. The move, it said, supplements previous options such as a bike-sharing system at its stations as well as a tie-up with Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation for feeder bus routes.
It is a positive step and, apparently, carefully considered. Apart from proactively tackling a major challenge to urban commuting, the tender process also got many details right.
In turn, the move sets an exciting example that mass public transit operators in Malaysia, such as Prasarana Malaysia Berhad and MRT Corp Sdn Bhd, would do well to consider emulating locally.
For example, having booking kiosks would enable commuters without smartphones to access the taxi booking services too, while the competitive bidding process — in theory, at least —ultimately encourages cheaper rates.
The kiosks may also be located in both paid and unpaid areas, making it easier for commuters to make bookings. That said, BMRCL indicated that the preferred kiosk location would be in the paid areas.
The tender announcement did not specify limits to who may bid for the licence, only that they must be licensed under the Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules, 2016 or at least have applied for it.
In other words, the tender offers a level playing field, being open to both ride-sharing players as well as any taxi company using an app-based online booking system.
This would hopefully prompt more taxi players to embrace the changing landscape of urban transportation, instead of resorting to unproductive boycotts and antagonism towards disrupters such as Uber.
That scenario may be a promising alternative to push towards in light of the protests, violence and vandalism among groups of Malaysian taxi drivers against ride-sharing drivers and users over the past year, such as those organised by Big Blue Taxi Service, among others.
The BMRCL tender documents are available from Dec 5th to 22nd at its main office in Bangalore. For five days beginning Dec 7th, bidders may visit any of the 30 stations to see the areas set aside for the booking kiosks. Tender submission closes on Jan 5th, 2017.