In a city in which if you do not have a motorcycle you cannot move at all, Uber is seeing a business opportunity by starting its first bike taxi service.
Thailand’s capital is well known for its traffic jams and driving a motorcycle is the way to go if you want to move faster than 10 kilometers per hour. Over 1,500 new cars hit the streets of the city every day, more than double the number just a few years ago. Unsurprisingly, traffic speeds have drastically dropped and the average daily commute now takes 120 minutes. Uber, which started its business with a limousine service in San Francisco, saw the chaos in Bangkok as a new step to expand its operations. “Motorcycles are part of the commuting culture in Thailand,” Douglas Ma, Uber’s head of Asia expansion, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to introduce a product that resonates with Thai people.” Through this move, the ride-hailing company also plans to offset its rivals’ presence in the Southeast Asia region, where GrabTaxi, China’s Didi Kuaidi and India’s Ola are dominating the market. Uber is expanding this month further into the Philippines, where it started “uberHOP” which allows commuters to travel in the same direction by sharing a ride during rush-hours, at a flat fare.
The San Francisco-based startup says its UberMOTO service in Bangkok is the most affordable option in the city with rates starting 10 baht (28 US cents). “This is also a great opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of motorcycle safety, especially the role helmets play in saving lives,” Uber said. To this end, it partnered with the Thai Traffic Police and Head Awareness Club (HAC) in various community outreach and education initiatives. As part of this joint effort, Uber will be donating helmets to young students and adults in the community.