Introducing the First Real Taxi Meter Innovation in 100 Years
Meet the taxi meter that would take over the world. World Moto wants to bring meters--durable, advertising-enabled, black-box-housing, tamper-proof meters--to the 200 million motorcycle taxis that are so popular in the developing world.
motorcycle taxi with meter
As gadgets go, it's hardly the sexiest. It's a meter. For taxis. For motorcycle taxis, to be precise. And yet it might just be a $3 billion dollar idea.
Paul Giles, President of World Moto, whose new Moto-Meter hits the streets of Bangkok in March, remembers when he first got the idea for his product. An American ex-pat in Bangkok, Giles was hanging out with some motorcycle taxi drivers. It's a common profession in Thailand, where traffic often clogs the path of cars, leading some 700,000 Thai men and women earn their living by weaving moto-taxis in and out of traffic. In recent years, moto-taxis have become wildly popular not only in Thailand but across the cities and towns of Asia, Africa, and South America. In mega-cities like Bangkok, Laos, and Sao Paolo, their growth has been exponential.
But moto-taxis have sprung up as a mostly unregulated industry. Lacking meters, moto-taxis' fares are subjective--the sort of situation that leads to knowing admonitions in Lonely Planet guides, and surly behavior on the part of tourists and taxi drivers alike, each mistrustful of the other.
As Giles talked with some of his taxi-driving acquaintances back in 2003, he got to wondering, why don't moto-taxis have meters? "It's interesting because it's such a simple idea," he tells Fast Company. "When it hit, it was like a lightning bolt. I thought, my God, they're everywhere, why don't they have a meter?"
Giles hopped on Google immediately, convinced someone else must have had the idea before him. He entered "motorcycle taxi meter" and pressed search. "It's amazing, you can close your eyes and type on the keyboard a random set of number an