Motorcycle taxi

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Drivers of motorcycle taxis in Bangkok wear orange vests.

A motorcycle taxi is commonly referred to as a cart bike and is a licensed form of transport in some countries. Typically, the taxi carries one passenger, and sometimes two or more who ride as the pillion, behind the motorcycle operator.

Mainland China[edit]

In mainland China, use of motorcycle taxis can be traced back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. The motorcycle taxis are present throughout China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Their popularity is based primarily on their low price: Short trips cost just 5 RMB (less than $1 US) per person.


The motorcycle taxi service began in Brazil in 1994, in the city of Crateús, in interior of the state of Ceará.[1] At the time, a worker of the Bank of Brazil, bought 10 bikes for rent, for the transport of persons. Other sources say that they may have arisen through an idea of an unemployed biker, in the city of Bauru, São Paulo, in 1996. To make ends meet, he hung a banner across the road to the city following words "help a biker racing to 1.00 real." Today, almost all Brazilian cities is verified such service.[2]

Typically, the amount to be paid is unique regardless of the distance to be traveled . However, the amount can vary depending on the time or day of the week or even increased if the agreed distance is larger than usual.

Depending on the size of the city, the transport activity by motorcycle taxis can be registered or not . Small towns tend to have this service without standardization or municipal legalization. Cities larger treat motorcycle taxis similar to a taxi service.

This type of service has been built very recently in neighborhoods or less rich regions, an alternative livelihood to young low-class, an alternative employment to seek a source of income to survive.

In July 2009, the Brazilian Senate approved a law[3] governing the work of professional motorcycle taxi drivers : the motorcycle courier and the motorcycle taxi driver:[4] will have to be at least 21 years of age, a minimum of two years of qualification in the category "A" Brazilian drivers license and qualification in a specialized course.


In Phnom Penh and other cities in Cambodia, motorcycle taxis are the primary form of public transport. Motorcycle taxi drivers are called motodups. They form in queues outside major tourist attractions, office buildings, public markets and near the corners of residential streets. In Phnom Penh, a typical motodup ride costs around 2,000 riel.


In Maroua in Cameroon, the most common way[5] to get around is by motorcycle taxis. Most motorcycles are used with more than one passenger. Sometimes you can see four children being driven by a driver on one motorcycle. Helmets are rarely used, but the speed and traffic is moderate. Short distances in the city cost about 200 XAF Franc (about 0,30 USD).


'Pilots' wait for customers at this motorcycle taxi stand in Vasco da Gama, Goa

Motorcycle taxis are a licensed form of transport in Goa, India. They are much cheaper than other taxis, although the lone passenger can only carry a backpack as luggage. Motorcycle taxis in Goa are driven by men called 'pilots'. By law, in some parts of the state, the rider is expected to wear a helmet, but the pillion-rider is not. These motorcycle taxis can normally be identified by their yellow-and-black coloured paint. The fare should be fixed in advance, and the rides are not metered.


Motorcycle taxis in Indonesia

Motorcycle taxis (ojek) are a very common unlicensed form of transport in Indonesia. Commonly called ojek, they can be found in most areas of the country, from towns where traffic jams sometimes greatly hinder other forms of transport to rural areas areas where four-wheeled vehicles cannot travel. Would-be passengers usually haggle with the driver over the fee which is generally around IDR 5,000 to IDR 10,000 (about 50¢ to US$1) for short trips.

Many motorcycle taxi drivers own their vehicles or are paying installments for them through credit. The availability of cheap Indonesian-made motorcycles from Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki and some cheaper Chinese imports combined with the ease with which driver's licenses can be obtained and credit schemes has resulted in the rapid growth of motorcycle taxis. In several areas, the motorcycles used are often stolen ones without any papers.

Indonesian law requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets. However often only the driver does so. Sometimes drivers provide a helmet for the passenger but more likely drivers will simply avoid larger streets where police might catch the violation.

Because of traffic, ojek are often the fastest form of transport, especially in Jakarta. Many people choose ojek rather than taxis because although taxis are much safer, ojek are cheaper can easily manoeuvre through the traffic.


Nigeria has about three million motorcycle taxis [6] with over one million in the city of Lagos where new rules prohibit them from carrying pregnant women or children. Authorities say they will be stopped from driving up the wrong way, and the roads they will be authorised to travel on will be sharply reduced.[7]


The Philippines has sidecar taxis as well as "habal-habal" - motorcycle taxis with extended seats, often sideways by a T-shaped crossbeam. Habal-habals are also colloquially referred to as "skylabs",[8] in reference to the space station deployed by NASA during the 1970s.[9] "Tricycles," covered three-wheel autorickshaws, are also a common mode of transport.[10][11]


In 1994–1995 there were several motorcycles working as taxis in Stockholm. Due to the Northern climate of Sweden, there is not a long period for a motorcycle taxi to work in Stockholm, and so it remains only a niche industry. As of 2011 there is one company offering tours using two Chang jiang sidecar motorcycles.[citation needed]


Motorcycle taxis (Thai: มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง, motoesai rap chang, pronounced [mɔ̄ːtɤ̄ːsāj ráp t͡ɕâːŋ]) are common forms for public transport in Bangkok and most other cities, towns and villages in Thailand. They are generally used for short trips. In Bangkok, there are motorcycle taxi queues on many sois, or side-streets, and the queues are regulated by the city's government. Licensed motorcycle-taxi operators wear orange vests. In compliance with Thailand's helmet law, many (but not all) carry a spare helmet to offer to passengers.

United Kingdom[edit]

A motorcycle taxi waiting for passenger in London

The industry began in 1990 and has established itself as a niche market, never growing past a total of 15 bikes.[citation needed] All equipment is provided for the passenger along with an intercom system linking the rider and passenger. The luggage rack means a cabin-sized suitcase can be taken on the back for convenient trips to local airports, especially Stansted, Gatwick and City. The bikes are now licensed by Transport for London and the Public Carriage Office, (PCO) who also license London's black cabs. There are currently 3 firms offering a taxi bike service based in London.

United States[edit]

A motorcycle for hire service began in California and New York City in 2011. Like a sedan service, random passengers may not hail the motorcycles, but rather a yearly individual or corporate membership fee, plus an hourly rate, is charged. Experienced riders, many former police motorcyclists, carry clients on Honda Gold Wings, and in California can bypass traffic congestion by lane splitting.[12] Passengers are provided with helmets, airbag vests, and Bluetooth in-helmet cell phones. Besides the Gold Wings, the service bought several Can-Am Spyders before realizing they were not capable of splitting lanes.[13]


A Vietnamese xe om driver and his passenger

Locally known as xe ôm, this lightweight mode of transportation is one of the most popular in Vietnam. It surpasses buses when it comes to speed and mobility. Passengers can get a ride simply by waving at passing operators. Alternatively they can find drivers who usually gather at public places such as schools, markets, hospitals and bus or train stations.[14]

See also[edit]

  • Okada, commercial motorcycle in Nigeria.
  • Boda-boda, the term used in East Africa


  1. ^ COELHO, Modesto Siebra. A nova onda no transporte urbano: mototáxi. Sobral-CE, Edições UVA, 1997
  2. ^ ETUFOR, 27/04/2010, acesso em 19 de julho de 2011.
  3. ^ O Globo, 10/07/2009, acesso em 12 de julho de 2009.
  4. ^ Biker doing day or night rounds in gated communities , open residential neighborhoods or commercial areas
  5. ^ Cameroon - Page 225 Ben West - 2011 Bradt Travel Guide Cameroon, 3rd edition
  6. ^ "Moto-Meter Granted a Patent in Nigeria -- Monopoly Guaranteed Until 2033". The Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "House bill seeks to legalize ‘habal-habal’". GMA News Online. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Habal-Habal: The Philippine Motorcycle That Gives 10 People a Ride". Global Voices. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Philippines - Page 450 Greg Bloom - 2009 "Tricycles, Kalesa & Habal-Habal Found in most cities and towns, the tricycle is the Philippine rickshaw – a little, roofed ... Habal-habal are essentially motorcycle taxis with extended seats (literally translated as 'pigs copulating,' "
  11. ^ Greg Bloom Philippines 10th Ed 2010- Page 450 "Tricycles, Kalesa & Habal-Habal Found in most cities and towns, the tricycle is the Philippine rickshaw – a little, roofed sidecar bolted to a motorcycle. Tricycles are often garishly done up in the mode of a jeepney, and you'll likely hear one before you see one from the noise of the smoke-belching two-stroke engine. The standard fare for local trips in most provincial towns is P6. ...non-motorised push tricycles... put-put or podyak for shorter trips... Kalesa are two wheeled horse carriages"
  12. ^ Carpenter, Susan (27 April 2011), "Moto Limos Club takes you there — by motorcycle", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2011-04-29 
  13. ^ Siler, Wes (14 April 2011), "Motorcycle taxis come to America", Hell for Leather, retrieved 2011-04-29 
  14. ^ "Transportation in Hanoi". Retrieved 22 August 2012.