Uber and Ola simultaneously launch motorbike taxi services in India
Bangalore's congested roads to welcome motorbike taxi services from Uber and Ola Getty Images

Uber and its India-based rival Ola have launched motorbike taxi service in India. The country's IT hub Bangalore in the southern Indian state of Karnataka is the first city to witness what is likely to be a fierce and competitive transportation battle between the two taxi-hailing firms.

Uber piloted its UberMOTO services in Bangkok, Thailand, in February and is now expanding internationally with its latest metropolitan addition in Bangalore. Rival Ola has also launched motorbike taxi-hailing services in the city and is already noticing high demand.

Commenting on the roll-out of its new motorbike taxi-hailing services, Uber said: "UberMOTO is another step to help cut congestion in Bangalore by getting people out of cars when they don't need to use them, and by encouraging motorbike drivers to share their ride. It follows the launch of Uber's carpooling service, which is designed to get more people into fewer cars. By using today's transportation infrastructure more efficiently, Uber's technology can help the government of Karnataka cut traffic and congestion at no extra cost to taxpayers."

Describing the need for motorbike ride-hailing services, Ola marketing director Anand Subramanian said: "A primary pain point in India is congestion. Bikes are a very popular mode of personal transportation, there are millions on the road in India, and they are a faster way to go from point A to B," the TechCrunch reported.

Both Uber and Ola appear to have fairly similar service pricing. Uber is offering its customers a base and minimum fare of 15 INR (less than quarter of a dollar) and an added 3 INR per kilometre or 1 INR per minute. On the other hand, Ola's minimum fare is 30 INR with an additional 2 INR per kilometre and 1 INR per minute. Both companies offer customers safety gear like helmets and are planning to hire licensed motorbike drivers.

As a promotional offer, Uber is offering its first time UberMOTO customers a free first ride to the amount of 100 INR. The offer is valid till 31 March and is an indication of the company's determination to stay ahead of Ola's game. Only time will answer whether the new service will be a hit or miss for either company.