Clearing the last mile for office-goers in most metros has always been a pain. They might be able to cover the first leg of the journey in relatively quick time but once they get off the metro/train, they dread the last mile commute. They hope to cover the last couple of kilometres to their office in a few minutes. But the never-ending queue to get a rickshaw or the limited space in a bus makes them want to tear their hair out.
To them, we say, keep your hair on. There are micro-mobility solutions to the rescue. That’s a mouthful but they really are just bikes and cycles that you share with others, and start-ups such as Yulu and Mobycy (Zypp) have them parked and ready. These are meant for ‘micro’ distances (or last mile connectivity) which is measured as anything less than eight kilometres, by global standards. The start-ups here charge for the duration of use, in minutes and hours, averaging about Rs.15 per hour for cycles and Rs.70-80 per hour for e-scooters. As expected, most of their subscribers have been those between 25 and 35 years of age, using the rides largely for office commute.
Cycle sharing caught on in Europe, China and the US nearly ten years ago, but they were mostly with docked vehicles. That is, they needed a parking area with physical locks and keys. After 2014, dockless bikes began to be rented out; these are ones that can be locked-unlocked using a smartphone and therefore can be parked at any legal parking spot. DD Mishra, senior director analyst at Gartner, says that micro-mobility grew exponentially over the past two years. “There are more than two dozen operators globally, and they are spreading quickly to new cities in every region. These solutions theoretically could include most passenger trips of less than five miles (eight kilometers), especially in China, the EU and the US,” he says. He cites a McKinsey report that says the global micro-mobility market could grow to $300-500 billion by 2030.
Over the past few years, between 2017 and 2018, Indian start-ups too opened for business. They let loose Io