MUMBAI: Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) electric bicycles (e-bikes) – which initially had 150 – have grown to 1,000 at 16 locations across the city in the past two months. With the demand for this service increasing, BEST is now trying to solve the problem of criminals randomly dumping these e-bikes.
“Some private agencies have been outsourced to provide e-bike services citywide. We have noticed instances of bikes being discarded,” said BEST General Manager Lokesh Chandra.
He added that the work appeared to be done by some criminals. At the end of each day when an agency checks inventory, we notice missing bikes.
“As all the vehicles are connected to the GPRS facility, our team tracks them and brings them back to their respective locations or e-bike parks. We are working hard to find a solution to this problem,” Chandra said.
In June, BEST launched a public trial of 150 e-bikes. The average number of trips per day on these bikes increased to 550. BEST monitored the turnaround time of the e-bikes and introduced additional stands and vehicles for a smoother ride.
“Not only is it next to the bus stop, but we’ve got these bikes ready for train stations, near residential areas and offices,” Chandra said. “When passengers get off at specific bus stops, they can easily Use these e-bikes to travel to their final destination. These are app-based services and the payment is also done digitally.”
Areas like Andheri, Powai, Vikhroli and Vile Parle were the most popular for e-bike trips during the public trial period. Companies and business areas in Hiranandani Powai, Andheri MIDC, NELCO in Andheri, SEEPZ in Vikhroli and Godrej Platinum are also popular with commuters who use these e-bikes. About 50,000 commuters have signed up for the e-bike facility online, and an average of 200 bikes are used across the city every day.
“Every day, it takes me around ¥25 to ¥28. Arrive at my office in Powai from Vikhroli station. For a distance of 4.5 km, it is cheaper than an auto rickshaw,” said Reyansh David, who commutes daily between Thane and Powai.
He added that there are shared auto-rickshaws at the station for a fee ¥30, I’ll have to wait for others to join, which sometimes takes another 10 minutes, and the car driver will take a different route depending on where others want to go.
“All this is very time consuming, I can reach the e-bike in 10 minutes, the traffic is not a worry, and the commute is cheaper. I have to pay online so that the process is smoother when I go home during peak hours,”29 said David.
Electric bikes offer travel in ¥20 base fare ¥3 per kilometer traveled and ¥1.50 per minute. Areas such as Juhu, Santacruz, Khar, Bandra, Mahim and Dadar also include other e-bikes. Since these bikes are gearless, no driver’s license is required. It has a speed limit of 25 kilometers per hour, so reckless driving incidents will not be reported. By June, the fleet is expected to grow to 5,000 e-bikes.