Southeast Asian ride-hailing and bike-share services are altering the motorcycling landscape.
Riders of two-wheel ‘Xe Om’ taxis used to make a decent living transporting passengers across the large, cityscapes of Southeast Asia, but since app-based services such as Uber and Grab have moved into the area, the traditional motorbike taxi driver is finding it hard to compete.
In an Associated Press article on Voanews, the story of Nguyen Kim Lan – a Hanoi-based Honda rider – is one of frustration and decreasing work,
“Nowadays, my frequent customers have all booked Grab and Uber, so they don’t come here anymore”.
“Before”, he continues, “office workers would come here after work. Now they just sit in their offices and get picked up at the door”.
Many Vietnamese now prefer to use ride hailing apps, viewing their services as safer and cheaper, Tuan Anh said. “GrabBike brings transparency and that’s why customers love it. They know that they will not be cheated by the drivers.”
It’s a familiar tale as the car services from USA’s Uber and Malyasian-based Grab have already made a large dent into the four-wheeled taxi market, and now with their UberMoto and GrabBike services taking solid aim at the two-wheeled, Xe Om portion of the pie, it’s hard to see how the traditional bike taxi can compete.
Nguyen Tuan Anh, the chairman of Grab Vietnam, says that the number of GrabBike riders has increased from 100 when they first launched in late 2014 to over 50,000.
And now some older riders are fighting back, literally.
GrabBike report that over 100 of their drivers have been attacked within the past year alone – and the story is one repeated in Thailand and Indonesia too.
Despite the fightback and ever-increasing resistance to the new services by government regulation, ‘Xe Om’ riders’ days would appear to be numbered,
“Only elder people or those who are in hurry use traditional Xe Om. Young people and people who are not short on time never use Xe Om.”