Are Motorcyle Taxis Legal in Peru? The Story of Picap
Have you ever watched a motorcycle splitting lanes, weaving through traffic, and thought: “Man, I wish I could be doing that right now.”? Motorcycle taxis aim to fill that hole in your heart. But, are motorcycle taxis even legal in Peru?
The answer is no. And the reason why we’re even talking about this might surprise you.
What is Picap?
Picap (pronounced similarly to “Pick up”) is an application similar to Uber, Lyft, or any other type of rideshare. However, instead of putting you in a 4-door vehicle, you ride on two wheels. It also provides courier services similar to Rappi or Glovo.
The app was developed by a couple of Colombians. It first launched in Bogotá and Medellín this year, offering free rides until February 18th.
The obvious advantage of using Picap is that you’ll get there faster on a motorcycle than you would in a car. Of course, your ride also comes with the additional risks that motorcycle taxis entail. And it’s precisely because of those risks that Picap finds itself mired in legal controversy.
Are Motorcycle Taxis Legal?
A quick glance at the Wikipedia page for motorcycle taxis mentions several places where the service is legal and regulated. However, the Colombian transportation ministry announced that such services were illegal and issued a cease-and-desist order to Picap.
Here in Peru, something similar happened. Picap, fresh off of a $2.5 million dollar investment from abroad, planned to enter the Peruvian market with a bang. They put up some billboards, and even reached out to some popular influencers in Peru to get people excited about the service.
Not long after, however, and Peru’s transportation ministry declared the service completely illegal. They too insisted that Picap shut down its operations.
Picap didn’t listen. And that’s where it gets interesting.
El Comercio’s Report on Picap
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a report on El Comercio broke the news of some of Picap’s shadier business dealings. In their investigation, they managed to get into a group chat on WhatsApp. The group was full of Picap drivers, as well as the company’s Peruvian representative.
In this group chat, several drivers proposed doing illegal things. Very illegal things. Things like taking over bus stops with guns, robbing clients, and spreading pornography around.
As a member of the company was present in those chats and did nothing to stop them or report what was said, Picap has now come under significant scrutiny for its hiring practices and its lack of oversight in general.
Motorcycle Taxis Just Aren’t Safe
This is the lesson here. Not only are motorcycles dangerous enough as it is, but when an app fails to vet its drivers at all, it puts your life at risk. Indeed, the El Comercio reporter was able to sign up as a driver, even though he didn’t have a motorcycle license! Picap accepted him without asking any questions.
Safety is one of Gringo Taxis’ priorities, and it should be yours too. Is saving an extra 15 or 20 minutes in traffic worth it?