RIDE-HAILING firm Grab Philippines is seeking to revive its motorcycle service, Grab Bike, to help provide “affordable and agile transport solutions” to commuters.

In a statement on Tuesday, it said it had submitted a letter of intent to the government’s interagency technical working group (TWG) on Dec. 9 last year.

“In light of the recent conversations around motorcycle taxis in the Philippines, Grab would like to reiterate its interest in participating in the motorcycle taxi space to help provide affordable and agile transport solutions to hundreds of thousands of Filipino commuters,” it said.

In its letter of intent addressed to TWG Chairman Antonio N. Gardiola, Jr., the company said: “May we respectfully request from your good office to allow Grab Philippines to participate in the pilot testing for motorcycle taxis.”

Grab Philippines noted that it operated Grab Bike in the country until the middle of 2016 “when the service was discontinued in compliance with the government regulations.”

The company said it was “seriously considering” to invest again in its Grab Bike service, which it described as the largest bike-ride hailing provider in Southeast Asia with 2.55 million bike rides and 1.49 million bike drivers last year.

“It boasts a 99.99% safety record which is one of the highest among Southeast Asia,” Grab Philippines said in its letter.

In a related development, the government’s TWG for motorcycle taxis warned on Tuesday that Angkas could be blacklisted for alleged violations of the guidelines it set.

The TWG has extended the implementation of the pilot program to March this year as it allowed two more players — JoyRide and Move It — to participate in the program. The original six-month pilot program had expired on Dec. 26.

The two companies will join Angkas in the extended pilot program starting on Dec. 23, 2019 up to March 23, 2020 with an overall cap of 39,000 registered bikers — or a limit of 10,000 bikers per transport network company (TNC) in Metro Manila and 3,000 bikers per TNC in Metro Cebu, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced in December last year.

Angkas bikers opposed the policy as 17,000 of them could lose their jobs. They asked the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the policy.

On Monday, Mandaluyong City RTC Vice/Acting Executive Judge Ofelia L. Calo issued a TRO for 72 hours.

The court said the policy “puts a cap on the number of bikers that Angkas is entitled to” and enjoined the respondents “from performing any act that limits and impairs their rights to deal with and continue with their contracts with Angkas.”

In a televised news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Gardiola said the TWG had set guidelines, which include provisions for blacklisting.

He said it was “very possible” for Angkas to be blacklisted for violating provisions of the guidelines. He said LTFRB had confirmed reports that the motorcycle taxi is operating in Cagayan de Oro and in General Santos City. — Arjay L. Balinbin