Uber expands ride-hailing services with motorbikes in Brazil

Ten cities already have Uber Moto, which will be the subject of a public hearing at the Recife City Council due to prohibition of the motor bike transportation service

Photo: Uber/Courtesy
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  • Uber is launching the option of ride-sharing trips with motor bikes in some cities in Brazil;
  • In Recife the operation is prohibited and will be the subject of debate in the City Council;
  • Uber says it is a technology company and its activities do not fit the requirements of authorizations required of transportation companies.

Uber is gradually expanding ride-hailing motor bikes service throughout Brazil. Operations began in November 2020 in Brazilian city of Aracaju and so far ten cities already have the so-called Uber Moto option: São Luís, Recife, Fortaleza, Maceió, Teresina, Contagem, Goiânia, Cuiabá, Campo Grande and Aracaju.

Motorbikes are common in Latin America’s crowded streets of São Paulo as a way to dart through traffic. According to Uber, riding with motorcycles is cheaper than with cars but maintains the same safety protocols. “All trips with Uber – and now also with Uber Moto – include, among other measures, background checks of partners and give users the ability to share with their contacts the license plate, the identification of the driver and his location on the map, in real-time,” the company said.

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“Motorbike riders are already part of the routine of many Brazilians, so for us to really be the app that is part of people’s daily lives, it was important that we also have this option,” said Tiago Lambuca, Uber‘s operations manager, in a press release.

With the new ride-sharing option, Uber Eats couriers, who use motorbikes and are already registered on the app, can also choose to take Uber Moto trips. To drive in this modal, the motorcyclist needs to be 21 years or older, have a license for at least two years, and remark remunerated activity in the driver’s license.

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“The delivery partner who already makes Uber Eats deliveries will now be able to choose to make Uber Moto trips at the time when there is less demand for meal orders, for example,” adds Lambuca.

A controversial operation

In Recife, according to  Jornal do Commercio, the transportation of passengers with motorbikes is banned, and those who do it illegally can be fined and have their motorbikes impounded. Also, according to  Jornal do Commercio, a public hearing to discuss the Uber Moto operation has been scheduled for June 9 at the city’s City Council Chamber.

Colombian challenger Picap knows well the regulatory hurdles of ride-sharing with motor bikes. The app had its service banned in Colombia in 2020 and faced lawsuits in Brazil for the prohibition of motorcycle taxi service in São Paulo. But in September 2019, the São Paulo Court of Justice concluded that the service can operate according to a 2009 federal law and that the city can define rules to oversee ride-hailing operations with motorbikes.

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Asked about the ban on the service in Recife, Uber told LABS that “as a technology company, Uber‘s activities do not fall under the permit requirements required of transportation companies.”

Uber also said it develops an app that connects partners who drive their own vehicles to users who want to move around cities, following the platform’s Terms of Use.

“In the Uber Moto modality, partners hire the app to perform individual private transportation on motorcycles, an activity provided for in the National Policy of Urban Mobility (Federal Law 12.587/2012) and distinct from categories of individual public transportation on motorcycles, such as moto-taxi, to which the mentioned legislations refer.”

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According to Uber, the federal rule that regulates private individual passenger transport – and that sets the limits for regulation by municipalities – makes no distinction as to the type of vehicle. “Commonly, the activity is performed with cars, but that does not mean that this is the only modal allowed. Uber has always defended that the coexistence of new mobility options brought by technology and traditional public transportation services is not only possible but also brings benefits to the consumer, who now has more choices.”

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The fear of the regulators is a greater risk of accidents with the operation with motorbikes. Uber argues that just like Uber Eats delivery partners, Uber Moto drivers will receive educational content on road safety, encouraging safe driving, and respect for traffic laws. “All Uber partners also undergo an identity check via selfie, and, since the start of the pandemic, an additional selfie checks for mask use.”

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