People of Vijayawada will soon have a new mode of transport at their disposal on the city roads. Days after a new electric bike-rental service called Lona was launched in the city, popular bike-sharing startup Bounce also announced its entry into the city on Thursday. Bounce provides dockless bike services in Bengaluru, while operating with a docked scooter model in around 35 metros and tier 2 and tier 3 cities. This means that users can pick up a bike or electric scooter from any of the multiple docking stations where the vehicles are available, and return them to any other station within the city once their ride is over.
While Bounce has launched with petrol bikes alone for the time being, the Bengaluru-based startup plans to also launch electric scooters soon. While scooter sharing services like Bounce and Vogo are widely available and popular, mostly in metropolitan cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad, startups like Bounce now seem eager to tap into tier 2 cities like Vijayawada, where the traffic congestion has been increasing rapidly.
Speaking to TNM, Hemanth Kumar, who is the Vijayawada Marketing Manager for the Bengaluru-based startup Lona, says that the decision to launch in tier-2 cities, and Vijayawada in particular, was also due to the smaller size of the city. “Vijayawada is one of the most rapidly growing cities in recent times. There is a lot of congestion in a limited area, with many places where there are huge footfalls. This is why after a lot of groundwork, we decided to launch here,” says Hemant. With a battery mileage of 60 km, Hemanth says that smaller cities like Vijayawada make a good market for electric scooters.
Lona was launched on a trial basis last week, with 40 e-bikes and two docking zones, near the McDonald’s signal and Aayush hospital. “We’re planning to increase to 70 bikes from the coming week. Based on the pilot run, we want to make improvements in our model and scale up to 1,500 bikes and 200 zones by March 2020,” said Hemanth.
While Bounce has presently launched with a few thousand petrol bikes and a few hundred hubs in the city, the startup has plans to launch electric scooters as well.
While a fully charged battery lasts for 60 km for a Lona e-bike, making it more convenient for a smaller city like Vijayawada, riders can get the batteries replaced at the nearest docking zone. Similar to Bounce, riders can also pick up and drop a bike from any docking hub or zone across the city.
Thefts and vandalism, however, have been a big challenge for dockless bike rental services in cities like Bengaluru. However, Hemanth is hopeful that the anti-theft alert systems in place will work, and will be improved based on the trial. “We can always track the location of each bike through GPS. We will be alerted if the bike is moved when the ride is locked (on the app), or if anyone tries to disable the GPS,” said Hemanth.
While no licence is required as of now to ride the Lona e-bike, Hemanth says only persons above 16 years of age can use the electric scooters, and the maximum speed limit has been fixed at 25 kmph.