The Railways is launching a ‘rent-a-bike’ facility at 15 stations in the Thiruvananthapuram railway division in order to provide seamless last-mile connectivity to passengers. The service has already been implemented at Ernakulam Junction and Ernakulam Town train stations. Thiruvananthapuram, Kochuveli, Kazhakoottam, Varkala, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Tripunithura, Aluva, Angamaly, Chalakkudy, and Thrissur railway stations will also receive the service in the near future.
The Railway Commercial Department stated that ‘rent-a-bike’ services will be available at stations in key towns and tourist destinations. Hire a ‘Bullet’ motorbike in Chalakkudy to visit the pristine Malakkappara and Valparai hill stations or rent a bike in Alappuzha to appreciate Munnar’s tranquilly. Travelers can now rent scooters in addition to motorbikes. The rates, which are reasonable, are determined by the length and distance travelled.
A ‘Bullet’ bike may be rented for Rs 192, inclusive of all taxes, for one hour for a distance of 10km, with an extra price of Rs 5 for each additional kilometre travelled; costs for two and three hours are Rs 230 and Rs 358, respectively. The rates for one-hour, two-hours and three-hours scooter rentals are Rs 128, Rs 192 and Rs 256, respectively.
Monthly rentals are also available for the two-wheelers. The rider’s helmet is free, but the pillion rider’s head protection needs be rented. If a rider has a mechanical problem while on the road, the rental company will offer all assistance and if necessary, a replacement vehicle. Anyone with an Aadhaar card and a valid driver’s licence can rent a two-wheeler and the cars can also be pre-booked by submitting the necessary paperwork at www.caferides.com.
The railroads are also preparing to relaunch the ‘rent-a-car’ programme, which was put on hold when train services were delayed due to COVID-19-related limitations. The EVM Group, which recently acquired the startup Caferides, has been clinched a 5-year contract to manage the ‘rent-a-bike’ programme. ‘Apart from Activa scooters, Royal Enfield bikes in the Thunderbird, Classic and Standard 500 types are available for hire at the stations,’ said Rakesh, EVM deputy general manager.
Electric scooters and smartphone apps to access the service are being developed. In the near future, the initiative, which began in the Thiruvananthapuram railway division, would be duplicated at stations in the Palakkad division.
The Thiruvananthapuram division’s business development unit is implementing the ‘rent-a-bike’ initiative in order to diversify revenue streams away from railway ticket sales. Every year, the railroads will get an additional Rs 10 lakh in licence fees.