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Last week Uber announced its first motorcycle scheme in Thailand's capital Bangkok/AFP

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Uber and Ola race to offer motorbike taxis in India

Last week Uber announced its first motorcycle scheme in Thailand's capital Bangkok/AFP

Last week Uber announced its first motorcycle scheme in Thailand’s capital Bangkok/AFP

BANGALORE, India, Mar 3 – Uber and its Indian rival Ola on Thursday launched pilot taxi motorbike services within hours of each other, as competition between the two taxi apps ramps up.

Both start-ups are trialling the motorbike taxis in the traffic-clogged southern city of Bangalore, seeking to grab a greater share of India’s ultra-competitive ride-hailing market.

The American firm’s UberMOTO will start at 15 rupees (22 US cents) per ride while Ola’s Bike Taxis will start at 30 rupees, but have a lower fare per kilometre.

“This will help users get to where they want to be within minutes, especially in traffic-prone cities like ours,” said Pranay Jivrajka, chief operating officer of Ola, India’s biggest taxi-hailing app.

Ola plans to scale up the service in the city in the coming weeks, he said.

Ride-hailing apps have risen rapidly to become a multi-billion-dollar industry in India’s congested cities, but have faced controversy over safety.

An Uber driver was convicted in October of raping a 25-year-old passenger in late 2014, a case that sparked accusations the California firm failed to conduct adequate background checks.

Uber was officially barred from New Delhi, but the ban has not been well enforced and its cars continue to operate in the capital.

Uber, the world’s most valuable start-up, set up its India operation in September 2013 and now does business in more than 25 cities in the country.

Last week it launched its first motorbike taxi offering in the Thai capital Bangkok.

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