Bangalore | 28th May 2020: Leading shared mobility players, Bounce and Vogo, as representatives of the shared mobility industry petitioned to central as well as state government to re-evaluate urban commute, factoring in the changes that would be necessary in a post covid-19 world. They highlighted the role of mobility in reviving the economy and discussed the need for cities to rethink their mobility strategy and formulate different approaches to suit the changing needs of commute.
Along with the petition, a detailed white paper titled, “Urban Mobility in the face of a pandemic: The new reality and role of Shared Mobility” was submitted.The white paper, assented by Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, conclusively proves self-driven shared mobility will be the safest mode of commute that is also efficient and affordable. The issue was highlighted in a recent survey done by B.PAC where commuters showed high apprehension to use public transport, primarily from a safety point of view.
The problem: The biggest challenge faced by governments today is how to restart the economic engine without compromising the safety of citizens. To ensure the world doesn’t go into a massive slowdown, there is an immediate need to restart economic activity. A key factor to keep in mind is how people will commute while maintaining social distancing.
Solution: The whitepaper details that the most efficient forms of commute, public transport, is not the most suited for ensuring social distancing, especially in densely populated Indian cities. After studying in detail all forms of commute, the whitepaper arrives at self-driven shared mobility to be the best option for maintaining social distancing.
“India needs to prioritize sustainable mobility solutions that can help combat the challenges of social distancing and hygiene while ensuring economic activity resumes safely. Shared mobility services like self-drive shared scooters will be a highly efficient option as they provide an affordable, individual and safe mode of transport for commuters.” said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog
Commenting on being prepared post lockdown, Vivekananda Hallekere, Co-founder & CEO Bounce, said, “Public transport has been doing the heavy lifting in India to make mobility a fundamental right and accessible to all. In the post-covid-19 world, however, it is important to re-imagine public transport to factor in the changed needs of commute. If this is not done, individuals will be pushed to buy personal vehicles, at the cost of the overall wellbeing of the society. This crisis can be avoided if start-ups, governments and businesses can come together to build newer ways of shared and public transport.”
“We believe that mobility is fundamental to progress in society. As cities open up, people are realizing the impact that COVID has had on their mobility dependencies. With hygiene and social distancing being the new norm, it is important that people still have the ability to carry on with their daily lives. We need to ensure adequate preparedness of cities to cater to these new requirements in the most efficient manner possible.” said Anand Ayyadurai, Co-Founder & CEO Vogo
As the lockdown eases and cities open up, people will need to move but might want to avoid public transportation because of the risk of being exposed to potential infection. According to the online survey conducted by NGO Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), 50% of the respondents who used public transport prior to lockdown said they won’t be using it for at least three months post lockdown; 36% of this do not intend to take public transport any time soon.
Basis the B.PAC report and a detailed analysis of available modes of commute, it is evident that any form of transport with exposure to/or contact with co-passengers will be adversely affected. Self-driven shared scooters will be the most efficient solution that not only provides social distancing but also aids in reducing traffic and pollution. With the right enablers, one bike can help ten to twelve users to reach their destinations every day, in comparison to one/two users through a private vehicle.
Revathy Ashok, Managing Trustee & CEO, B.PAC emphasizes on the critical role of shared mobility, “The world is seeing an extraordinary public and shared mobility challenge. The very sustainable mobility solutions that were being advocated are now under threat of virus transmission. In the short run, governments and shared mobility providers have to make many adjustments to the services they provide through social distancing, limiting the number of passengers and even providing single rider services with disinfection post each use. These are uncertain times and the challenge in front of us is to find ways to deliver a safe commute experience to the customer without compromising on the broader objectives of encouraging public and shared mobility.”
Both the players have appealed to the government to address the high rate of Goods and Services Tax (GST) that the industry currently incurs; given self-driven shared scooters are low cost, in line with public transport services and autos, they should fall under the same slab of 0% GST or taxed under 5% GST slab on par with cab aggregators and other mobility service providers. This will enhance the affordability factor, providing much-needed relief to commuters in this hour of crisis and aid the government in keeping in check the number of private vehicles on road & social distancing in public transport. For more details on the benefits and safety measures being undertaken by self-drive shared scooter services, please refer to the attached report by Bounce and Vogo – Urban Mobility in the face of a pandemic: The new reality and role of Shared Mobility.