RENEE BUNTER, CHEUK SING KUAN & ELIZA WYNN
This is not your traditional mode of transport.
In the near future, ‘The Bongo’ will be hitting the streets of Fremantle.
The Bongo, similar to a tuk-tuk, is an electric powered tricycle with a canopy, which can reach speeds of up to 45km per hour.
Bongo Transit Fremantle owner Mark O’Malley is bringing four Bongos to the port city from Victoria.
Three of the vehicles will be limousine Bongos which can carry six people and the fourth will be a white Bongo for Bongo-loving brides.
“With the Bongo being a unique, electric powered vehicle it really sticks with the Fremantle environmental culture,” Mr O’Malley said.
“It really brings an Asian influence to Perth as most people here have travelled to Thailand, Vietnam or Bali before and have heard of tuk-tuks.”
Mr O’Malley said even though the demographic of passengers differed between Fremantle and Victoria, he believed the Bongo would be just as successful, if not more so.
Bongo Transit Fremantle plans to run sunset tours, food and beverage tours and a hop-on-hop-off service with a set route around Fremantle for pedestrians to use at their own leisure.
Fremantle resident Fred O’Driscoll said he liked the idea of tuk-tuks coming to Perth.
“I think it’ll work here because it’s different, it’s quirky and eventually it will settle in and become a routine way of life,” Mr O’Driscoll said.
“If it’s going to work anywhere in Perth, it’ll be Freo.”
Mr O’Malley said despite the reputation of tuk-tuks for being dangerous, Bongos would be safer.
“They’re way safer than a motorbike or a scooter because they’re a three-wheel vehicle and the batteries are out of the way under the seat,” he said.
“The Bongo has been tested and has Australian safety certification so they are very, very safe.”
Beth Sinclair, who is visiting Fremantle from Cardiff said it would be easy to get people interested in using tuk-tuks, as parking in Fremantle is quite difficult.
“I reckon families would like it because mums don’t want to walk with a two-and-a-half-year-old from their parking spot and don’t want to push their pram through the crowd,” Ms Sinclair said.
“There’d definitely be a market for it.”
Ms Sinclair said she had avoided traveling in tuk-tuks overseas due to their safety, and overseas road rules, but would consider trying it if it came to Perth.
“They’re not going to be going that fast and look at the enormous bicycle lanes [here in Fremantle],” she said.
“I reckon it would be fine.”
Mr O’Malley said a Bongo ride was likely to cost $20 for an all day tour ticket, but that was yet to be confirmed.
Curtin University Professor of Human Resource Management, Kerry Brown, formerly a director of a university tourism research centre, said the Bongos would likely attract visitors on a regular basis.
“The reasonable cost and ability to get around more flexibly is a key,” Professor Brown said.
“Plus it’s an experience.”
Fremantle City ward Councilor Simon Naber said the Bongos were a great idea.
“There’s a lot to see and it’s quite a historic city,” Cr Naber said.
“I think it’s important to make a bit of a differentiation between those in Indonesia and those in Fremantle.”
Mr O’Malley is awaiting the approval from Fremantle council, and the time frame of the Bongos’ rollout is yet to be released.
Feature photo of Phil Luchetta, the Melbourne-based owner of Bongo Transit. Photo supplied by: Mark O’Malley