THE DEPARTMENT of Transportation’s (DoTr) interagency technical working group (TWG) has increased the cap for motorcycle taxi bikers in Metro Manila to 45,000 from 30,000, and expanded the coverage of the pilot run to Cagayan de Oro City, where 9,000 bikers are allowed to operate, the same number as in Metro Cebu. The announcement came after the TWG backpedalled on its earlier recommendation to terminate the implementation of the test run as one of the players filed cases questioning the policy on the number of bikers allowed per transport network company. Samar 1st District Representative Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento, chair of the House transportation committee, announced on Wednesday after an executive session with TWG, DoTr, and stakeholders that it was agreed that the implementation of the pilot program would continue until March. Retired Police Major General Antonio B. Gardiola, Jr., head of the TWG, told reporters that the 45,000 cap on bikers in Metro Manila means that Angkas (DBDOYC, Inc.), JoyRide (We Move Things Philippines, Inc.) and Move It (We-Load Transcargo Corp.) will have 15,000 bikers each. Mr. Gardiola said the three ride hailing firms will also equally share the allocations in Metro Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. “To add them all, we now have 63,000 cap [on bikers],” he added. Under the TWG policy, if a motorcycle firm fails to reach the cap, its slots will be redistributed to the competitors.

Mr. Gardiola also told reporters that Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade is open to extending the pilot study period, which will end on March 23. An extension would be made should the TWG need more data on the viability of motorcycles as a new mode of transportation. The TWG also withdrew its recommendation to ban Angkas from operating as a motorcycle taxi service provider as the company said it would drop the cases it filed against the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and the DoTr questioning the policy that limits the number of bikers in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. “Nagkausap na po kami doon (We already talked about the matter) and that’s what it’s for, so we are now in collaboration. We’ve spoken with the secretary (of the DoTr) yesterday. We also heeded to the opinions of senators and good congressmen today. I think everybody is involved in this endeavor,” said George I. Royeca, Angkas regulatory and public affairs head. “Everybody wants to make it work for the riding community… Excited po kami sa pilot (We are excited for the pilot program). Hopefully, we can get the success of the pilot for the necessary law to be passed,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin