Sunday, December 29, 2019

Becak in the Era of Grab-Bike and Gojek

Becak (human powered cycle rickshaw) is a mode of transportation that still exists in the era of Gojek and GrabBike. In cities and towns of Java island, becak drivers can still be found pedalling their tricycle taxis usually loaded with 1 or 2 passengers. Sometimes, becak drivers carry goods such as food materials from a traditional market or construction materials from a shop to a nearby housing area.

The usual distance that a becak driver can cover is between 1 and 3 kilometers. Longer distance can be achieved by a driver if the land in his city is flat. In Indonesia men are the ones that drive becak. Traditionally, becaks are human powered vehicles.
Human powered tricycle rickshaw in Indonesia
Becak in Surabaya city of Indonesia
In Surabaya city, there are also becaks that are powered by motorcycles. This modification is not recognized by department of transportation. Because its speed is above the allowed speed for human powered rickshaw, and is the same as motorcycle, it is dangerous for passengers. So, becak motor is not allowed to operate in main streets of the city. The number of becak motor is increasing. This afternoon when I visited ITC Mall, I saw some drivers of becak motors were parking and waiting for passengers at the entrance area of the mall.
Becak Motor di kota Surabaya
Becak Motor in Surabaya city of Indonesia
In certain countries like Indonesia, India and China, electric rickshaws have been introduced to the public as an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. Traditional becak owners in Indonesia may not be interested in buying the electric rickshaws which they consider as expensive. To help them, local goverment can launch special program for the electrification of becak. Low interest loans can be provided to them so that they can buy the electric becak. The distance an electric becak in Yogyakarta can cover is around 40 kilometers. That's when the driver does not paddle his vehicle at all. So, the distance is far enough for a becak to compete against grab-bike, grab car, gojek, gocar for short range urban transportation. Since there are not many electric becaks available in this country, they cannot be included into grab or gojek application. 
Governments should consider electric becak as an alternative solution for an environmentally friendly mode of public transportation. - This was written by Charles Roring

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