Five start-ups selected to enhance first and last mile connectivity on Namma Metro

Bengaluru: Five selected companies will get to try their ideas on a pilot basis and will be eligible for a grant to build their systems to improve ridership on Bengaluru’s Namma Metro.

Bengaluru has become a ‘capital of ideas’, where startups of all kinds have been coming out with innovative solutions using technology to solve diverse problems. The same enthusiasm was shown when the World Resources Institute and Toyota Mobility Foundation announced a Station Access and Mobility Programme challenge for improving first- and last-mile connectivity to Namma Metro. This programme is part of India’s first pilot to develop first- and last-mile connectivity to metro systems being built across the country.

Out of the 85 applications received, the pitches made by 26 companies were selected, and 13 of them were selected to make presentations before a jury which finally selected five of them.

While Metro Bikes bagged the first place, Quick Ride, Tap Route, Constapark and CiFoS were selected for the next four places.

All the companies suggested several smart solutions which will be tried on a pilot basis over the next couple of months using real-time data from Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation.

The STAMP challenge encountered stiff competition as the final 13 startups made quick presentations on what they intend to do, at what stage they were and their business models.

 

While declaring the results, Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Mobility Foundation Shin Aoyama told the winners that the foundation and WRI India will remain in contact with them and work together to find a viable solution to bridge the last-mile connectivity gap.

“All those who participated in the pitch demonstrated out-of-the-box thinking. The ideas were seriously innovative, seriously required and overall a great initiative to address first and last-mile connectivity to push more people to use the Metro and public transport,” V. Ravichander, a jury member and civic planner said.

Revathi Ashok from the Bangalore Political Action Committee, which is also partnering WRI in this initiative, said there was a huge gap in the metro system which needed to be addressed.

One of the shortlisted candidates were Metro Bikes, a smart urban mobility solution that provides one-way rides on two-wheelers providing the most cost-effective, flexible and fastest mode of commute. The company currently has petrol-run bikes but will operate e-bikes on this pilot programme.

Team members who made the pitch said they were working with Bosch to develop a keyless entry model. It’s subscription-based members can pick up the scooters from a Kirana shop, tech park or from metro stations by authenticating themselves. “They will then be given a battery pack which is inserted into the scooter and the ride begins,” a team member explained.

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These two-wheelers rides have a GPS, a crash sensor as well as insurance. They have identified two metro stations which have mixed residential and working population so that the bikes are used at both ends. They are also looking forward at pooling and sharing a ride on the passenger seat.

The users will be charged Rs 5 per km and 50 paise a minute. The company is already at a revenue generating stage and is willing to supply 100 bikes for the pilot. To improve usage during non-peak hours, it has tied up with Amazon and Chaipoint for their personnel to use these bikes for delivery, said Vivekananda Hallekere, its CEO.

Quick Ride provides safe and quick car-pooling solutions for last-mile connectivity by using its app. It will incentivise its drivers with redeemable fuel points. Founded by KNM Rao, it has already partnered with many car owners in the city. It intends to target 900 users during the pilot at Baiyyapanahalli and has asked BMRCL for a parking bay to enable car owners to wait for metro riders.

Tap Route, powered by Hyperloop India, won the third position for what it claims is the world’s first on-demand public transportation service, which aims to merge the speed and affordability of Metro and the convenience of on-demand auto-rickshaws and cabs to provide the fastest and most affordable way to travel.

Though still at a prototype stage, the user can pre book travel in three successive taps–take an auto-rickshaw from home to the metro station and pre book one at the alighting station. “The best part of it is that the auto at the last mile will sport the same beacon number as the first one making it easily identifiable to the user,” said founder SibeshKar.

The company hopes to launch non-app-based operators on a hub and spoke model to offer rides in a limited radius around the Metro stations. For the drivers, it will be based on a subscription or commission model.

The fourth position went to Constapark, a citywide parking slot aggregator which generates data on availability and sends it to users on their smartphones on a real-time basis.

Offering a smart parking platform for smart cities, Constapark has digitised parking plans for Namma Metro. It will manage the 1,000-car Byapanahalli Metro Station parking area on a pilot basis. It will also collaborate with others who offer last-mile connectivity such as cycle, two-wheeler and car rentals, said Chetan Chauhan from the company.

The last position went to CiFos or Citizens for Sustainability. The NGO has come out with an idea-stage pitch where a station accessibility index lets commuters and mobility providers benchmark the accessibility levels at metro stations via mobility indices and deploy solutions that make the impact of service better.

Co-founder Sathya Sankaran said accessibility will increase ridership if the neighbourhood station index improves.

Pawan Mulukutla, who heads integrated transport for WRI, said more than 50 Indian cities are in the process of building metro systems. “However, research shows that adequate first- and last-mile connectivity is crucial for the success of mass transit solutions. In many cities, it is still lacking. To bridge this gap, STAMP was launched in December 2016 to identify technology-based solutions. The pilot is being held in Bengaluru for which five qualified.”

Pawan believes that smooth last-mile connectivity can help improve Metro ridership by 15 percent, which also means encouraging more people to switch over to different forms of public transport.

PS Kharola, BMRCL MD, said Namma Metro had a lot of expectations from this STAMP challenge as the Metro aims to touch 5,00,000 riders per day soon.

 

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