Bike taxis could revolutionize public transportation

Authorities have looked to make numerous changes to the transportation system of the world's most densely populated City.

Bus service was briefly introduced to offer a cost effective solution to transportation within the capital Male, but after several snags the sole form of public transportation available on the island capital was short-lived.

The alternative for people without private two or four wheeled drives were the 800 taxis registered by the Transport Authority, but together with complaints of lax service have not been sufficient enough to be the answer to the transportation solution.

Amidst a rather bleak present, the government Sunday launched bike taxi service. The number of private motorcycles have increased drastically in the past 15 years, and the move has left many wondering if it would suffer a similar fate to the public bus service.

"The speed of Maldivian progress is astounding. It is important for the transport system to develop along with the rest of the country. This service would create further employment and will allow people to travel to places more punctually. We are sure the problems of the past will be fixed," Chairman of the Transport Authority, Abdu Rasheed Nafiz said.

The service, which was launched on Sunday, is currently in the hands of a company called ScooTaxi, a company renowned for providing cycle taxi services in Europe. This may become a factor in influencing more people to test the quality of service.

In an interview given to 'Avas' by ScooTaxi Managing Director Mohamed Bassam stated that measures would be taken to ensure the safety and well being of customers, as well as ensuring a high quality of service along with reliability.

The riders on the motorcycles will be subject to medical check ups, with background checks also being conducted. They will also be given necessary first aid training in case of an accident.

"Safety wise, the public have nothing to worry about. There are many guidelines in the regulation compiled by the Transport Authority to ensure the safety of the passenger. Our company intends to ensure a safe mean of public transportation, as opposed to generating a profit," Bassam said.

Bassam said that the service will be available through a hotline service, and that ScooTaxi applications will be available within the next two months. He stated that this would enable an easier service for the customers, and that efforts were ongoing to make it a reality.

"Selecting the destination on the ScooTaxi app will enable our drivers to know where to arrive. When a driver accepts the call, the customer will receive an alert with the photo of the driver and the license plate numbers. This app will make it easier for both customers and drivers," Bassam said.

He further stated that the customers can press a panic button on the app to inform the center of any incidents that occur while on the taxi, and that necessary steps will be taken.

Most members of the public agree that motorcycles are the perfect mode of transportation for small cities such as Male.

Along with being an alternative mean of transportation, this will also lead to an increase in employment opportunities for the youth of Maldives. Women involvement will also be prominent in the service, in accordance with the regulation that states male drivers can only provide service to male passengers and that female drivers may only provide service to female passengers.

"The youth are not only men. Our aim is to continue a balanced service with women involvement as well. We have received much appreciation already from women. I believe more women will be encouraged to join our service," Bassam said.

The Transport Authority confirmed that a second company will be joining the cycle taxi service in the next few weeks.