How is the Situation of Motorbike Taxis in Thailand during the Disruption of Grab?
5 years ago, motorbike taxis in Bangkok were once one of the most common modes of transportation in Thailand, especially Bangkok, because they are everywhere and the fastest way to get around in traffic jams.
As ride-sharing applications like Grab and Uber entered Thai market, things changed. These apps provide users with the level of convenience that is hard to overlook. They have a wide range of vehicles, including motorbikes, and users can book a ride via the applications with estimated fares. Users can also be sure that riders’ profiles were screened carefully. These are the reasons why Grab is a game-changer for motorbike taxis.
Sertis would like to look into the situation of motorbike taxis in Bangkok. How are the riders? Are there more or fewer riders after Grab’s entry? How are their income and expense, and how are they affected by Grab?
However, people in every occupation need to be consistently productive, so are motorbike taxi riders. Somehow, we may expect to see that riders adapt to the situation and reclaim their popularity in certain ways. Let’s stay tuned.
From the 2019 report, there were 185,303 motorbike taxi riders in Thailand. Around 45% of them are in Bangkok and 28.26% are in Bangkok Vicinity. 6.83% is in other provinces in the central region, 7.94% in the eastern region, 4.33% in the northeastern region, 2.99% in the northern region, and 4.35% in the southern region.
For the riders in Bangkok, there were 88,601 riders in 2014, then raised to 105,894 in 2015 and reduced to 84,547 in 2019.
5 districts that have the most motorbike taxi riders in Thailand are Jatujak (3,936 riders), Din Daeng ( 2,955 riders), Wattana (2,907 riders) Bang Khun Thian (2,899 riders), and Bang Kapi (2,870 riders).
Grab Bike had a soft launch in 2016 before launching officially in May of 2017. They have grown in popularity since then, which hugely affected the motorbike taxi industry and reduced the number of riders in 2017.
We gathered information from the UTCC University’s 2019 report on the situation, wages, and expenses of a sample group of motorbike taxi riders in Bangkok. Let’s start with the average ages of the riders which are 39 years old, starting from the youngest being 21 to the oldest being more than 61. Each rider works an average of 9 hours a day and has 41 rides per day.
70.6% of the riders in the survey are licensed. Licensed riders must pay the monthly rental fees of uniform and motorbike stands. As a result, the remaining 29.9%, which some of whom ride as a second job, refuse to register to avoid the costs.
Even though the riders earn around 975 Baht per day or 24,370 Baht per month, the cost of riding is as high as 11,634 Baht per month, including gas fee, installments, uniform rental fees, and motorbike rental fees, not to mention other living expenses, which left them less money than we expected.
After the arrival of Grab Bike, we should expect riders to quickly adapt to the situation. Despite this, only 35.8% of the riders in the sample group applied for a rider position in Grab and other apps. They reported that they earn an additional income of 1,741 Baht per month. The remaining 65% said that the reason why they didn’t consider riding in those apps is that they thought it was too complicated, they didn’t know how to use the app, and they didn’t think it was worth it.
However, the riders also accepted that they were greatly affected. Because of the convenience Grab provides, 60.77% of non-Grab riders admitted that the number of customers had decreased and the market became highly competitive. In the worst-case scenario, if they couldn’t afford to keep being a rider, 50% of these riders said they didn’t know what they’d do next because they didn’t think they had the skills for other jobs.
These riders also demanded the government to assist them by controlling the price of, for example, gas and uniform, raising the fare, organising the system, and providing riders with accessible and low-interest loans to help them survive in this situation.
Now may not be a pleasant time for motorbike taxi riders in Thailand, but the world is changing all the time and everyone must adapt. If the government lends a helping hand and the riders themselves correct their shortcomings, such as setting the standard fare and following strictly and improving the safety and driving etiquette, we believe that the situation will get better soon.