Bangalore: Shruthi (name changed) is ready for college. Earlier, she would spend 10-15 minutes trying to get an auto. Or end up booking an expensive cab.
Today, all Shruthi needs do is tap on her phone for the nearest available Bounce scooter. There! Her ride is ready.
“Living a student life is always about saving money, and when it comes to travelling, students mostly prefer the cheapest and fastest mode of travelling. I find using these scooters saves me a lot of money and time, every month, “says Shruthi.
There are thousands of students like Shruthi who find bike rental start-up Bounce, an easy way to commute. Bounce provides ‘shared mobility solutions’, according to the company website.
Bounce, a Mysuru-based start-up, offers a scooter sharing service which allows users to pick up a scooter from anywhere, ride it to their destination, and drop it off at any location. Unfortunately, students such as Shruthi who use the rental bikes, are also the ones who misuse it.
Bounce, launched in January 2016, is available across Bangalore and parts of Mysuru. In fact, the bright yellow and red Bounce scooters parked outside Metro stations are familiar to commuters in Bangalore. Today, the company’s fleet of self-riding docked and dock-less vehicles consists of more than 8,000 scooters, of which over half are dock less bikes according to the company website.
USED AND MISUSED
Those who find Bounce an easy mode of travelling also take advantage of it in many ways. Theft is the major issue. Riders steal everything including vehicle parts such as batteries, tyres, headlights, and mirrors; why they even pilfer petrol and helmets. Why do riders do this? “The company does not often provide helmets, in my area. So, whenever I get a ride where a helmet is provided then I keep it with me to avoid paying fines for (future) helmet-less rides,” admits Shiv (name changed) a regular user of Bounce scooters.
Another issue that Bounce is grappling with is haphazard parking of scooters by careless riders. Sometimes, riders abandon scooters beside roads or leave them parked on footpaths, leading to traffic violations. Rahul Kumar, a local resident of Hebbal, says he rented a scooter, but the fuel got exhausted after just six km. “As the petrol bunk was two kilometres away and since I could not push the scooter that far, I left it on the roadside and took an auto to my destination. The company should monitor the fuel issue,” says Rahul. News reports note that the company has put in a new rule which states that if a person fills the fuel for Rs 100, the company pays him/her Rs 30 as refund.
Traffic police find the scooters a traffic hazard. Traffic police say that users just abandon the bikes on the road. “Sending notices is of no use since the scooter does not belong to one individual user. Users of the service just park these vehicles in the middle of the road, creating a problem for other motorists and holding up traffic,” stress police officials. According to news reports, the parent company is now trying to coordinate with the traffic police to curb traffic violations. But what steps are being taken to curb other thefts, remains unclear.
Despite repeated requests, Bounce officials did not respond to questions from this reporter.