GrabBike debuts in Bangkok

GrabBike debuts in Bangkok

A motorcycle driver is flanked by GrabTaxi's Juthasree Kuvinichkul (left) and GrabBike's Pachara Lawjindakul at yesterday's launch of the new motorcycle service in the Thai capital.
A motorcycle driver is flanked by GrabTaxi's Juthasree Kuvinichkul (left) and GrabBike's Pachara Lawjindakul at yesterday's launch of the new motorcycle service in the Thai capital.

Thailand's motorcycle taxi service has entered the digital age with the GrabBike app, developed by the Malaysian taxi-booking app GrabTaxi.

People in Bangkok can now easily grab an on-demand motorcycle taxi with their smartphones after GrabTaxi added the new service to its fast-growing taxi-booking app yesterday.

Passengers or people wanting to send or collect a parcel can locate the nearest available motorcycle in less than 10 minutes.

With just a few taps on their smartphones, the app provides full information on who is going to give them a ride and how much to pay.

However, a big question is whether GrabBike will face a similar legal challenge as Uber in Thailand since public motorcycle drivers are also required to have public vehicle licences from the Land Transport Department and yellow number plates.

"Our GrabBike service is aimed primarily at capitalising on the surge in express delivery service from e-commerce," said Pachara Lawjindakul, head of GrabBike Thailand.

The service also offers an alternative to commuters, overcomes inefficiencies inherent in the motorcycle taxi segment and matches motorcycle drivers with passengers.

The GrabBike app, which comes with the GrabTaxi app, allows users to order a motorcycle taxi via iOS or Android.

GrabBike charges 35 baht for the first kilometre, 12 baht for kilometres two to 15 and then 15 baht for each kilometre afterwards.

In comparison, department regulations set traditional public motorcycle taxi service  at 25 baht for the first two kilometres and five baht for each kilometre after that, with the fee negotiable if the distance is more than five kilometres.

To raise awareness, GrabBike is offering a promotional flat rate of 35 baht with no limit on distance until Aug 31.

Ms Pachara said GrabBike was in talks with the Land Transport Department on how to make the new service comply with Thai law.

The company plans to recruit motorcycle drivers with yellow number plates in order to be legal.

Juthasree Kuvinichkul, director of GrabTaxi Thailand, said Bangkok was the fourth city for the new GrabBike service, after Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.

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