For months now, there has been a struggle between land transportation regulators and the beleaguered companies and employees of a rising but divisive new platform for app-based ride-hailing services: motorcycle taxis. Ever since Angkas began operations in 2016 the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has been on its case and that of every other ride-hailing company employing motorcycle rides that have followed their example. A more conciliatory measure was undertaken in which a technical working group would oversee a motorcycle taxi pilot program in Metro Manila and Cebu, with Angkas and similar services participating until March. The program was nearly canceled recently, but saved by pushback from the Senate.
CNN Philippines reports that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will not be axing the motorcycle taxi pilot program after all, as reported by a member of the technical working group (TWG) this Tuesday, January 21. This comes in the wake of an earlier announcement that the program was being terminated before its end date of March 2020, and that all riders of motorcycle taxis can be arrested this week barring a momentary grace period. The decision of the TWG was greeted with indignation by Senators. In light of that sentiment, the pilot program is resumed.
TWG head Antonio Gardiola, who had called off the program on account of insufficient data gathered on the legality of motorcycle taxi services, is now retracting the committee’s earlier decision. “We will continue it,” he said, but that will also come with possible new guidelines, and they will need to speak with the providers after conferring with the Secretary of Transportation. Gardiola does note the prevailing need of commuters for more alternative sources of hirable transport adding, “With the recent developments during the Senate hearing, the sentiment of the senators is to continue the study.”
The earlier announcement that the motorcycle taxi pilot program, which was extended for three more months beyond the original December 2019 conclusion, would be cut short with a warning to arrest riders, was badly criticized by the participant ride-hailing services. In addition, investors of the same companies, social media commentators, and national legislators slammed the technical working group for its heavy-handed measures especially against contracted motorcycle taxi-riders who are just trying to earn honest work. Senator Grace Poe said the Senate will not bow to pressure from the TWG to pass measures illegalizing motorcycle taxi services just because the study committee failed to gather meaningful data from the pilot program.
Said pilot program, should it rule favorably on Angkas, JoyRide and Move It, will recommend to lawmakers to propose amendments to the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, which stipulates that only four-wheeled vehicles can be used for commercialized passenger transport.
Image from ABS-CBN News