India’s capital Delhi has banned motorbike taxis from its roads, dealing a blow to companies such as Uber, Ola and Rapido.
A government notice says that using private two-wheelers to carry passengers for hire violates Indian law.
The notice adds that “digital providers… facilitating such operations” could be fined up to 100,000 rupees ($1,208; £1,005).
The companies have not commented yet.
Thousands of Indians use affordable motorbike taxis every day to zip through slow-moving traffic. They also provide employment to hundreds and thousands of people, many of whom use their private motorbikes to transport passengers.
But according to the Motor Vehicles Act, private vehicles cannot be used for commercial operations in India.
The Indian Express newspaper spoke to some drivers affected by the ban in Delhi, who said they would find it hard to make ends meet without the extra income.
This isn’t the first time motorbike taxis have got into trouble over their legal status.
In January, the Maharashtra state government refused to grant licenses to Rapido’s motorbike taxis, saying that there were no legal guidelines on their licensing, safety and fare structure. The Bombay high court also asked the company to shut operations as it didn’t have a valid licence.
Rapido then approached the Supreme Court, which directed it back to the high court.
Some gig workers have also protested against these taxis. In December, a gig workers’ union in Telangana state wrote to the government, asking them to act against private vehicles being operated as motorbike taxis.
According to a report published last year by Allied Market Research, India’s motorbike taxi market was valued at $50.5mn, and was expected to reach around $1.5bn by 2030.
“However, legal issues associated with bike taxi and resistance from local public transport operators restrains the market growth,” the report cautioned.