About

About the Industry

The invention of the taximeter in 1891 - which calculates taxi fares based on mileage - solved the fundamental problem of standardizing fares on for-hire transportation. Except for digitization, little has changed since then and the invention has become a ubiquitous fixture in taxicabs worldwide. Today, motorcycle taxis are fast becoming a more common and popular form of taxi throughout the world, especially in the hectic streets of heavily populated Asian, African, and South American cities. And while meters are ubiquitous in taxicabs, there are no similar devices for motorcycle taxis. Thus, moto taxi fares are not standardized and must be calculated by hand, with each fare being agreed upon or haggled before, during, or after a trip, often leading to failed negotiations and clashes between drivers and the passengers.

Market

Research shows there are currently well over 20 million motorcycle taxis in more than 100 countries worldwide, with the largest single concentration in Lagos, Nigeria, where more than 1 million drivers roam the streets. But even this is not the most highly saturated market, which would likely be Cotonou, Benin, where 72,000 motorcycle taxis serve a population of slightly over 700,000 residents. Most metropolitan cities are well under this saturation level, with a typical ratio of around 1 motorcycle taxi per 50 inhabitants. Such a low concentration of drivers yields ample opportunity for the industry to continue its phenomenal growth curve. The World Bank estimates their numbers will increase by more than 50% in the next 5 years, and World Moto's private research suggests this number is too low by a substantial margin.

Motorcycle taxis are becoming popular in major Western cities as well. In Paris, at least 30 moto taxi companies have come to market in recent years driven by strong demand from executives to get around town quickly. A trip to the Orly airport which typically takes an hour and a half by automobile taxi, takes only 30 minutes by motorcycle. In 2010, Moto Limos of Beverly Hills and Fifth Ave. was the first moto taxi service to open in the U.S., and taxi-scooter services have also popped up in over 50 U.S. cities.

Services

One interesting difference between the recent moto taxi services that are being established in the developed nations and the more mature services from the developing world is the range of tasks performed. In Europe and the US, the predominant trend is simply to ferry passengers, much as it was in the developing countries when these services began. But more than a decade after their introduction, moto taxis in many cities have become a fixture of daily life, and spend much of their off-peak transport hours performing courier and other specialized services. The consequences of this cannot be ignored. While FedEx same day services are only partially available in a handful of US markets with a best effort result of at least 3 hours or longer for delivery, businessmen in nearly any major and most minor third world cities enjoy the ability to send a package across town in under an hour, and for substantially less than what US consumers pay for an inferior service. It is expected that as the European and US moto taxi markets mature, they will follow similar growth and expansion profiles. Motorcycle taxis are poised to be a disruptive technology to the logistics industry as it is currently practiced in most Western countries.


"Motorcycle taxis are poised to be a disruptive technology to the logistics industry."

The flexibility of moto taxis as platforms for commerce is summed up by Robert Neuwirth, a noted author and journalist in a TED Radio Hour episode on The Future of Cities. As he explained "Mobile airtime in most of the developing world is sold by people at the side of the road. You don't buy monthly plans, you just buy pay-as-you-go airtime, and the airtime is sold all over the place by merchants and motorcycle taxi drivers. It's huge and we're talking about a massive part of the economy." And it isn't just airtime that they sell. Dr. Claudio Sopranzetti, a transportation expert from Harvard, describes motorcycle taxis "not only as transportation providers but also as messengers and personal assistants, paying bills and delivering commodities." Essentially any bill that needs to be paid or any object that is small enough to be carried is more conveniently transacted on the side of the road from a motorcycle taxi driver than by going to a conventional brick and mortar store front. And while it is impossible to purchase a plumbing fixture online by holding its mating connector up to your computer monitor, the motorcycle taxi driver has no problem assisting you with this.

"Mobile airtime in most of the developing world is sold all over the place by motorcycle taxi drivers."

Income

The drivers themselves enjoy a relatively comfortable life for their efforts, receiving solidly middle class incomes and commanding better earnings than 70% of their passengers. Drivers in Caracas, Venezuela for example, earn nearly $100 a day, which is substantially over the minimum wage of around $500 per month. Drivers in all countries are predominantly male, work around 10 hours per day, out of which approximately 3.7 hours are spent driving, and make an average 33 trips per day. Most drive full time. Only approximately 30% of the drivers have a second job. The median transit time per trip is 7 minutes. Depending on the country, the drivers may own their own bike or rent one from a fleet operator.

Future

The unexpected speed at which motorcycle taxis have exploded through the developing world have left the sector largely disorganized. Governments are straining to manage the industry, and the patent pending Moto-Meter by World Moto will likely play a critical role in this effort. As Robert Cervero states in the 2000 UN report on Informal Transport in the Developing World, "Classical arguments for regulation of urban transportation are rooted in economic principles of merit goods and public safety and welfare. The merit goods principle holds that urban transport benefits society as a whole due to the economic and social benefits conferred by enhanced mobility. The notion behind public safety and welfare is that common-carrier services must meet the public's mobility needs in a safe and efficient manner, and at a fair price." Because of this, all countries currently regulate motorcycle taxis to some degree, and most approaches are remarkably similar in scope and coverage across different corners of the globe.

When considering the opportunities for World Moto, it is important to understand that most countries with motorcycle taxis already have strict bylaws that require automobile taxis to be equipped with a taximeter, and the global trend is toward mandatory use of meters. The advent of the Moto-Meter should allow similar strategies to be applied to this thriving new industry.

"The Moto-Meter improves customer relationships and helps avoid misunderstandings."
Motorcycle taxi driver interviewed by EFE news

Quotes

"We have huge interest in the Moto-Meter, currently we have divided Riga (city) into four zones with different rates, but this has drawbacks though with a meter it would be much easier."
- Janis Pundurs, Director, City Scooter

"Truly fantastic innovation...and on top of all else your product can protect the safety of our crew and our property. Please let me know when it is available for purchase."
- Bagus Kesworo, co-owner motorcycle taxi fleet, Jakarta, Indonesia

"I am interested in the Moto Meter for my motorbikes and also for its distribution to European customers."
- Benjamin Darmendrail, founder of Moto-City, the first and leading motorcycle taxi/limo service in Spain

"We would like the Moto-Meter for all our fleet."
- Doddy Prapanca, founder of Bandung Taxibike, Indonesia

"Congratulations on this great product. A better safety culture would make them outstanding and passengers would prefer to choose those motorcycle taxis with a Moto-Meter."
- Mirjam Sidik, Executive Director, Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF)