(Edited Press Release)
It has been weeks since motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas suspended its operations. As its dialogue with transport authorities on December 12 nears, the discussion about the viability of motorcycle taxis continues to concern the commuting public.
Across the globe, motorcycle taxis are considered an indispensable mode of public transportation, operating from East Africa (where they’re called “boda boda”), to Indonesia (“ojek”), Vietnam, China, to even the U.S., U.K., and France, and yielding large benefits to both individuals and a city’s economy.
Global motorcycle taxi industry projected to grow 50% in 5 years
The rise of motor taxis around the world is partly explained by the rise in traffic. According to a global study conducted by Amsterdam-based GPS and travel service company TomTom, traffic jumped 23% between 2008 and 2017. In Metro Manila, commuters spend an average of 6 hours a day in traffic, while the country loses around P3 billion in potential income a day due to gridlock.
It’s no surprise, then, that motorcycle taxis have flourished; the ability to weave through lanes of congested roads has made them invaluable tool for commuters. Research shows that there are well over 20 million motorcycle taxis in more than 100 countries; the World Bank estimates that this will increase by more than 50% over the next five years. Motorcycle ride-hailing apps have also emerged to help organize the transport system, from UberMoto and GrabBike to Go-Jek in Indonesia, Go Bike in Thailand, Ola in India, SafeBoda in East Africa, Citybird in Paris, and Scotty in Istanbul, to name a few.
Yet the benefits of motor taxis go beyond just a faster and easier commute, extending to creating economic benefits for citizens and cities.
Motor taxi drivers in Venezuela earn 4 times the minimum wage
Motor taxis provide not only physical but economic mobility, guaranteeing better livelihood and income for bikers. Drivers in Caracas, Venezuela earn nearly $100 daily, substantially over the minimum wage of around $500 per month. One motor taxi driver in Indonesia shared that he earned as much as 10 times more versus his old job in construction. In countries like Uganda or Thailand, drivers can often earn more than a public school teacher.
The numbers look even better with the adoption of app-based motorcycle ride-hailing apps versus independent motorcycles for hire. A driver of Africa’s motortaxi app SafeBoda says he is able to complete up to 50% more trips in a day, resulting in even bigger earnings.
Motor taxi app improves road safety in Africa
Motor taxi apps have also been key in making motor taxis safer, with many stressing the importance of proper training and equipment for both bikers and riders. For example, 100% of Safeboda drivers wear helmets compared to the 37% average in Kampala, Uganda and 57% of SafeBoda passengers wear the additional helmet provided compared to the 2% average.
Motor taxis drive down unemployment in Jakarta
As reported by their Central Statistics Agency, Indonesia’s unemployment rate dropped from 6.18% to 5.61% in 2016, thanks to tech companies like Uber, Grab, and Go-Jek, who attracted many Indonesians to join as drivers. In the city of Kampala, Uganda, motor taxis are the second highest source of employment after agriculture.
Motor taxis contribute $3.8M (Sh400M ) daily to Kenyan Economy
Motor taxis have also made a positive impact on the city’s economy. In Kenya, the motorcycle industry generates an estimated Sh400 million or $3.8M daily, according to data from the Motorcycle Assembly Association of Kenya, making them an important player in the country’s overall economy.
Motorcycle taxis in the Philippines
In the Philippines, motor taxis are traditionally known as habal-habal. Metro Manila alone is estimated to have upwards of 100 terminals, an informal and unregulated industry. It underwent disruption earlier this year with the entrance of motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas, which aims to provide a safer and more professional service. Unlike habal-habal, which do not have safety measures or standardized fares, Angkas requires background checks and rigorous training of its bikers, provides safety gear and upfront prices to passengers, and covers all rides with personal accident insurance for bikers and passengers.
In November, Angkas voluntarily suspended operations to engage in talks with LTFRB. A dialogue between the two is set for December 12.
The LTFRB has declared Angkas a “TNC-like” company that requires its authority to operate, but also cited Republic Act 4136, the Land Transportation and Traffic Code enacted in 1964, as the basis for considering Angkas illegal and ineligible to receive a franchise. However, exceptions to R.A. 4136 have been made in the past, such as when the Department of Transportation created the TNVS category for Uber and Grab. Angkas has appealed to DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade to amend this department order to include motorbikes, putting Angkas firmly under the jurisdiction of the LTFRB.
The closure of Angkas comes as the holiday season brings traffic to even greater levels and affected commuters and bikers alike have urged authorities to allow Angkas to resume operations. Given the many benefits motor taxis provide, both to the economy and for beleaguered commuters, and considering that the rest of the world has already found a way to safely and legally integrate motorcycle taxis into its public transportation ecosystem, there may be merit to Angkas’ appeal.