Pune: PMC’s E-Bike Rental Project Stalled As Maharashtra State Government Restricts Speed Limit

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Pune, 5th July 2023: The Pune Municipal Corporation’s ambitious plan to promote electric vehicles and reduce pollution has hit a roadblock, with the e-bike rental project remaining on paper. Although the contractor was appointed nearly a year ago and the project was set to commence, it has been stalled due to the state government’s restriction on e-bikes exceeding a speed of 25 km per hour.

The Municipal Corporation has been actively working towards developing an eco-friendly transportation system, including the introduction of CNG and e-bus services to replace diesel buses. Recognizing the public’s preference for two-wheelers, the municipal corporation intended to launch an e-bike rental program. The proposal was submitted to the Standing Committee in March 2022 and received approval from Administrator Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar in September 2022. The project was slated for completion by March 2023, followed by the launch of the service in the city.

The responsibility for obtaining all necessary permissions and pursuing the project lies with the contractor. The Regional Transport Office (RTO) granted permission for two-wheelers with a maximum speed of 25 km per hour, but this limitation severely hampers the project’s viability.

E-bikes that can reach speeds of 60 to 70 kilometers per hour would be more practical, but such models have not been permitted by the state government. The proposal was even presented in a Cabinet meeting, but it was postponed, leading to the failure of the plan.

What was proposed?

  • Installation of charging stations at 780 locations across the city
  • Allotment of advertising rights to the contracted company
  • Other terms and conditions, including a 30-year space allocation

What happened next…

  • The administration approved the proposal for 250 stations in the first phase.
  • Each of these 250 locations was meant to house 10 e-bikes.
  • Users could pick up and drop off bikes at different stations.
  • A fee of Rs 160 paise per kilometer was proposed.
  • The contractor company and the municipal corporation finalized the sites for the 250 stations.
  • The project was scheduled to introduce e-bike rentals at 20 to 25 locations by January 2023.

What are the challenges? 

Although the RTO has permitted e-bikes with a speed limit of 25 km per hour, such low speeds can drain the battery quickly if operated at higher speeds. Additionally, transport department regulations do not apply to these bikes. However, the inclusion of these bikes in the city’s transportation system may decrease. Therefore, efforts are being made to secure permission for e-bikes with higher capacities, but approval is pending.

“The RTO has allowed e-bikes to operate at speeds up to 25 km per hour. However, we need e-bikes with higher capabilities. We are currently following up with the contractor to obtain the necessary permissions”, said VG Kulkarni, Head of the Road Department, PMC.

“The municipality has been granted permission for e-bikes, and if further permissions are required, they will also be granted”, said Ajit Shinde, RTO Pune.

Vehicle Statistics in Pune City

  • Total number of vehicles: 35,85,612 (June 2023)
  • CNG vehicles: 26,438
  • Diesel-powered vehicles: 4,09,737
  • Petrol vehicles: 28,58,487
  • E-Vehicles: 54,431 
  • Petrol and CNG: 1,98,055 
  • Other vehicles: 38,464