MEASURES regulating the operation of motorcycles as public utility vehicles will be given priority when the Senate resumes session on Jan. 20, Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said.

In a Monday letter to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Ms. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the chamber’s Committee on Public Services, said: “The legalization of motorcycle taxis is a priority measure of the Committee and will be tackled when the Senate resumes.”

The 18th Congress went on break on Dec. 21 for the year-end holidays.

Ms. Poe-Llamanzares’s letter was addressed to LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III, raising concerns about the timing of the regulator’s decision to cap the number of drivers employed by the Angkas motorcycle service (DBDOYC, Inc.) at 10,000 for Metro Manila from the current roster of 27,000.

“We need to consider the timing of this decision in the context of increased demand due to the holidays and the dire need for alternative transport in the metros,” she said.

An inter-agency technical working group studying the regulation of motorcycle taxis, led retired police major general Antonio N. Gardiola, Jr., extended the pilot program for motorcycle taxis to March, while allowing two other entrants to participate, JoyRide and Move It.

Ms. Poe-Llamanzares noted that while she welcomes competition, she raised the issue of whether the two new entrants can match the performance and safety record of Angkas.

“Surely, there must be a way to accommodate new players in the pilot program without great inconvenience to the riding public.”

Four Senate bills propose to recognize motorcycle taxis as PUVs and to regulate their operation; 13 bills have been filed in the House of Representatives. All are pending at the committee level.

When asked if the measures can be enacted before March, the end of the extended pilot period, Ms. Poe-Llamanzares told DzMM radio Monday: “Well, tayo ay umaasa… so ito ay didinggin naman natin kaagad-agad, so sana before March 2020 (We are hoping… and as such we will hear the bills immediately and will try to pass a law by March).” — Charmaine A. Tadalan