Beating Traffic Jams with Bike Cabs

KUALA LUMPUR: Taxis, Grab and Uber are of no help during traffic jams? Here’s the answer: Dego Ride.

It’s a new “motorcycle taxi” service that has hit the Klang Valley’s streets, with the promise of getting people around really quickly. It draws upon thousands of motorcycle couriers with the aim of ferrying people past rush hour traffic.

“It’s a much more convenient way to leave the office,” said Dego chief executive Nabil Feisal Bamadhaj.

He said fares start at RM2.50 for the first 3km, with 60 sen charged for every kilometre after that.

Dego Ride started in November and is growing quickly. It is getting a minimum average of 200 requests a day.

About 70% of its passengers were women, he added, and that half of all rides were to public transport stations or stops.

To use it, passengers need to send the word “RIDE” to a certain number over WhatsApp before they are given a booking form to fill on where they want to go.

After that, their ride will arrive in about five to 15 minutes.

Nabil said not everyone could become a bike taxi driver. Potential riders need to have a full B licence (500cc and above) and no prior police record.

Bike service: Grab Bike workers at Kuningan, Jakarta. ‘Motorcycle taxi’ services are popular in Indonesia, where the traffic is often heavy, and in other South-East Asian countries.

Bike service: Grab Bike workers at Kuningan, Jakarta. ‘Motorcycle taxi’ services are popular in Indonesia, where the traffic is often heavy, and in other South-East Asian countries.

Passengers are given insurance coverage of up to RM500, although Nabil says he’s looking at a more comprehensive policy.

Dego also runs a courier service called Dego Send, where its bikers run a same-day pickup and delivery model.

Right now, Dego has about 5,500 bikers working deliveries. Ferrying passengers complements this business.

In a test ride, The Star noted that a cruise in and out of the KLCC area took only about five minutes. It can take four times as long to complete that same journey by car during rush hour.

There are some limitations to Dego, however. Each rider can only take one passenger at a time, and all rides stop when it rains.

Millions of vehicles enter and exit Kuala Lumpur every day. During the morning and evening rush hours, many parts of the city are gridlocked with cars.

On bad days, it can take more than an hour or two to get into the city and vice versa.

However, motorcycles can bypass the problems and get to destinations speedily.

Motorcycle taxis are common in many large cities in South-East Asia. In Indonesia, they’re known as “ojek” with the service having thousands of riders, and in Vietnam “xe ôm”.

However, two-wheel taxis have never really taken off in Malaysia, with cars dominating the private ride industry for decades.

“They probably haven’t started in Malaysia because we don’t have the same level of congestion as in Jakarta, and we don’t have the same kind of local trips as cities in Vietnam,” said Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit advisor Moaz Ahmad.

He said outside of the city centre, office and other buildings tended to be far apart from each other.

“I wouldn’t take a motorcycle taxi from Subang to Petaling Jaya or KL, but maybe from Bukit Bintang to KLCC,” he added.

When asked about how legal Dego Ride was, a Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) spokesman said they were looking at more new players and showing an interest “in everyone”.

The Government said last year it had plans to regulate e-hailing companies, a move that is likely to include Uber and Grab, much to the anger of local taxi drivers who are bound by more transport laws and car rental fees

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