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"I will just have to keep driving": A Mixed-methods Investigation of Thai Motorcycle Rideshare Driver Responses to Poor Air Quality [Hybrid]

Picture: Kurtis Heimerl

Kurtis Heimerl

We conducted a mixed-methods study of app-based motorcycle taxis in Thailand to explore the complex interplay between air quality and participation in the rideshare economy. As motorcycle taxis are open-air vehicles, drivers can be exposed to prolonged air pollution and other weather events, potentially impacting their health.Through analysis of server-side logs and semi-structured interviews with drivers and passengers in three provinces, we explore the relationship between drivers' and passengers' awarenesses of poor air quality and their flexibility to respond, finding that drivers do not change their behavior despite significant air pollution events. Our study also sheds light on the social context that may constrain a driver's agency, including financial pressures, weather conditions, conflicts with local taxi organizations, and the need to work around the ride assignment algorithm. We find that when leveraging app-based rideshare opportunities, drivers simultaneously perceive increased flexibility in their work hours and a lack of agency to prioritize their health.