They are, after all, a great way to move fast, beat the traffic, and do it in style.
A very common form of transport in the Philippines is what is called locally the 'habal-habal', meaning 'mating', as 'the end product' looks like 2 animals mating. Any idea what this might be? Habal-habal are motorcycle taxis: the taxi driver is the rider, and the passenger sits behind the driver.
This form of transport is not shared with others, so it is considered a kind of private transport for the public. This is only one of the many examples of motorcycle taxis that exist around the world, including in Thailand, India, Cambodia, Sweden and the United States. But think about it - how great would it be to have motorcycle taxis in London? They are, after all, a great way to move fast, beat the traffic, and do it in style.
There are actually motorcycle taxi companies in the United Kingdom, but the total number can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The problem is: they are not popular at all. Why is it then that people don't fancy a motorcycle taxi ride? Because it is dangerous? Not more than being in a car or riding a bicycle. Because it is expensive? Motorcycle taxis are no more expensive than black cabs.
Hiring a motorcycle taxi with Taxibikes, for instance, costs 75 pounds between the West End and Heathrow - which is approximately the same price as a cab, only faster. Of course, in countries like the Philippines, a motorcycle taxi ride for about half an hour is less than 5 pounds. So here is the difference. In countries where it is so cheap, these ways of traveling are the most common form of transport.
But on the other hand, such cheap services do not offer a helmet, a luggage rack or a system to communicate between the driver and passenger. In a context like London, it might be worth it to pay for a 'fully equipped' motorcycle ride, at least occasionally, instead of taking a cab. The market for it in London does not seem to be growing but as soon as demand gets more important, the price for rides will fall, especially for short rides. This could be an interesting future for the capital.
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Kaela Danes, London
25 June 2012, 02:40PM
Thailand is popular for this also, along with the little vans which have been customised as a cheap form of travel, could be good in the capital I agree with Farah, and would be much easier to get around on.
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