Meet Mary Ann Santos. She’s 4'10", but she rides her motorcycle for the GoBounce! app-based shuttle service like a six-footer who can maneuver her motorbike left and right with so much ease.
Still single at 39 years old, she gives a part of her daily earnings to her family from ferrying passengers on her 90kg Honda BeAT scooter amid the horrible traffic in Metro Manila. She's just one of the three lady riders taken in by GoBounce! for the physically demanding task. According to GoBounce! marketing director Michaella Recto,there are dozens more applicants that need to undergo screening process.
After Mary Ann's riding duties, she would go home to help her folks in their boutique shop in Bagong Ilog, Pasig City. During weekends, she is also busy as an organizer for a feeding program for malnourished kids in their community.
Despite her tight schedule, Mary Ann hits the road wearing the official orange GoBounce! safety helmet, jacket and T-shirt for an average of four hours a day. This lady has been into motorcycling for the past six years before signing up to be a motorcycle 'taxi' rider.
"GoBounce! is very strict with screening rider-applicants," Mary Ann said. "They must first undergo stringent riding skills assessment conduct before they can be accepted to the company."
During the screening process, riders have to demonstrate different riding skills such as the "Figure 8," proper mounting and dismounting, and braking while a passenger is on board. But nothing beats the real world.
One drizzly morning, I requested Mary Ann to give me a short ride from Greenfield District in Mandaluyong City to the Top Gear Philippines office just a few blocks away, to observe her riding ability. Before I mounted on her motorbike, she handed me a poncho and mask both free of charge courtesy of GoBounce! The motorcycle taxi service also provides free accident insurance to passengers along with the rider. But such an arrangement is only valid when the passenger takes a ride using the mobile app.
“You need not to do that, sir,” she said. "Just relax and enjoy the ride!"
Executed in a smooth, safe manner, Mary Ann squeezed in her scooter in between vehicles in a controlled speed. I noticed that she also mastered throttle control that characterized smooth take-off.
Mary Ann doesn’t mind whether the passenger would hold on to her shoulder, waist, or pillion grab rail, for as long as he or she leans with her when the bike is turning to keep her in complete control of the vehicle. She also asked me to bring my body closer to hers for better stability of the motorbike.
Other than extending courtesy and respect to passengers, GoBounce! also ensures that every rider complies with the company’s grooming and hygiene standards.
“We should always be looking good and smelling good,” Mary Ann emphasized, adding that she never fails to brings along a kikay kit that she keeps inside the top box of her scooter. All in all, these things give Mary Ann unparalleled confidence in taking passengers to their destination.
Now, are you ready to ride with her?