By Brontë H. Lacsamana, Reporter
THE LEGALIZATION of motorcycle (MC) taxis will ease the nightmarish commute conditions in Metro Manila, which have worsened during the holiday rush, transport advocates said.
“It’s good that we have motorcycle taxis which commuters appreciate, but if they continue to imitate the negative character of taxis of snubbing people when they’re needed, then the TWG (technical working group) should monitor this,” said Primo V. Morillo, convener of The Passenger Forum, in a Dec. 22 Zoom interview.
The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) TWG reviews and revises guidelines regarding MC taxis and oversees the ongoing pilot implementation of their operations.
House Bill 10571, or the Motorcycle Taxi bill, is already in the works, with three MC taxi companies — Angkas, JoyRide and Move It — given special provisions to operate MC taxis as part of the government’s pilot-testing program.
“We know that, out of all road-based transport, motorcycles are the most accident-prone. Given that, it’s important that we have a system for it, proper training for it, and insurance for it. That’s why our call to the TWG is to design the MC taxi to discourage the use of habal-habal (another name for motorcycles-for-hire),” said Mr. Morillo.
A digital advocacy group also said that a proper motorcycle taxi law will allow more riders to operate safely under ride-hailing companies.
“This law, if enacted, aims to legitimize or legalize the use of motorcycles as vehicles for hire. Right now, it’s not allowed, which is why there are many illegal habal-habal riders on the road, and passengers don’t have protection for that,” Digital Pinoys convener and national campaigner Ronald Gustilo said in a Zoom conversation on Dec. 21.
On Dec. 20, a public Facebook post by Ghint Prns that went viral shed light on the practice of Angkas riders turning off their app in order to offer their services as habal-habal motorcycles:
The user detailed trying to book a rider in Makati City on Dec. 19 and paying a premium because of the Christmas rush.
Delivery platform Lalamove also issued a Dec. 20 statement saying that its vehicles are “not licensed to transport people, only items for delivery,” making the practice illegal.
On social media, netizens have denounced the state of Philippine public transportation given the fact that such an announcement was even necessary:
“Started booking Angkas, Joyride and Grab from 6:00pm and only got a ride at 11:20pm. Taxi drivers asking php 500 for Makati-to-BGC ride + metro rate. When you got barely any options in transpo here, in a car-centric, mostly unwalkable areas in the city, u got nowhere else to go”
— Been Sent (@vincentcastor09) December 14, 2022
“So if it hasn’t dawned on people yet and if people are still trying to defend it. The transportation system in the Philippines is so broken that people have been literally dehumanizing themselves by using transportify and lalamove and basically getting transported as human cargo”
— The Norman Whore (@emkey) December 16, 2022
Diane, 25 years old, has been resorting to this since 2017 just to get from one point to another, sometimes even within the same city.
“I only do it when I can’t get a ride on any public transport and have a hard time booking a Grab or Angkas,” she told BusinessWorld via Messenger on Dec. 21.
For Lalamove and Transportify riders, being booked to deliver a package only to find a human asking to be transported has become a common phenomenon.
A rider from one of these services shared in a Dec. 22 face-to-face conversation with BusinessWorld that while these requests are often refused, riders can’t help but consider striking an agreement with the customer if the price is right.
“This ‘hack’ emerged when I was a college student and it’s still something I’ve had to do even now when I’m already working. Nothing has changed,” Diane said.
Meanwhile, the rider explained that these kinds of deals are unavoidable: “Ganun talaga dahil sa kahirapan ngayon. Nasisilaw yung iba sa pera. Yung sasakay naman, diskarte niya yun. (That’s just how it is in difficult times. More money is tempting. As for the commuter, they’re just being strategic.)”