Can motorcycles solve Manila’s traffic?

While most Filipinos – myself included – complain about the traffic on almost a daily basis, most of us see it as the government’s responsibility to fix. Actor and model Jet Rai, who recently founded startup BikerX, thinks differently.

Manila’s road space problems

Rai founded startup BikerX in the hope of helping alleviate the traffic congestion in Metro Manila. “It banks on the idea of utilizing biker clubs and private individuals to maximize the potential of underutilized motorcycles and to effectively deal with road space problems,” Rai said.

Motorcycles can be hailed via BikerX for individual rides, as with the case of other transport apps already operating in the Philippines, as well as “hatid-sundo” (drop-off, pick-up) arrangements and motorcade participation. It can also be used for parcel delivery in the same way that most motorcycles in the city are traditionally utilized.

ON THE ROAD. Can BikerX be one of the solutions to the Metro's traffic woes?

ON THE ROAD.

Can BikerX be one of the solutions to the Metro's traffic woes?

For these various offerings, BikerX is priced based on such variables as distance of travel and peak hour costs, in addition to any promos that they may be offering.

No matter the service, BikerX is an interesting solution for the ‘road space problems’ that Rai mentioned. To put it simply, motorcycles take up a less space than motor vehicles and thus may be a more city-friendly option over vehicles with only a single passenger.

Still, while Filipinos may feel comfortable using motorcycles for logistics, they may not necessarily be accustomed to using it for their own personal transportation. Rai argued that motorcycles can be a fun way to travel, and with BikerX’s GPS tracking system, this form of transport can also be a safer and more efficient way of commuting.

MASTERMIND. Jet Rai, the man behind BikerX, speaking at ImpactHub.

MASTERMIND. Jet Rai, the man behind BikerX, speaking at ImpactHub.

As a new platform, Rai is still focused on growing BikerX to offer more services. “We are also in the verge of finalizing various partnerships with different brands and companies to create a better experience and have a good set of perks for our riders,” he said.

The Uber of motorcycles

To get Filipinos to try out BikerX and remain with the platform, Rai is banking on a rewards program for both ends of its marketplace.

“BIkerX is developing different incentives both to its riders and users that would work through the course of their loyalty and use of the app,” he said, adding that they also plan to offer free rides to show the convenience and efficiency that their motorcycles can offer.

TRACKING. A map showing BikerX's vehicles.

TRACKING. A map showing BikerX's vehicles.

Though some may peg BikerX as the “Uber of motorcycles,” Rai does not believe his startup is a direct competitor of the Silicon Valley giant, nor even of GrabTaxi. He said that BikerX caters to a more diverse market segment that is not just limited to ride sharing, because it can appeal to the corporate industry with its delivery offerings.

Though Uber is quickly foraying into logistics with UberRUSH, which is live – as of this writing – in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, and GrabTaxi has had parcel delivery available in Manila via GrabExpress for some time, BikerX is arguably different in that it’s focusing on logistics from its inception and its entire fleet is composed of motorcycles, which may be better suited for delivery.

Rai cited safety and the need to secure their parcel delivery as the biggest challenge facing BikerX. “We have overcome this ordeal through having a unique tracking system for our riders,” he said, adding that they also have a screening and verification program to make sure that their riders are trustworthy to ride with.  

Following the launch of BikerX, Rai’s immediate goals are to help both sides of the platform. “Our vision is not just providing an alternative method for transportation for commuters, but to also become a platform for collaborative uses of motorcycles that would help our transport industry,” he said.

In trying to achieve this goal, BikerX would seem to have more in common with other ride-sharing apps - they need the government’s support to get there. On this front, Rai called on the Philippine government to be more collaborative.

“The government could support the ridesharing industry by being more cooperative and supportive in terms of regulations and policies and to find a middle ground for everyone,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, we are all after one thing, and that is the safety of our commuters.” – Rappler.com