The government should allow at least four—not just two—motorcycle taxi firms to participate in its pilot program, as the Philippines shifts to a “new normal” that may again see a high demand for public transportation.
“As we reopen the economy, we’ll need public transportation. The land sector—rail, buses, jeepneys—aren’t ready yet for a sharp rise in demand from the commuting public,” Representative Edgar Sarmiento, chair of the transport committee of the House of Representatives, said in a radio interview.
Sarmiento said he would ask the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to explain why only two firms—Angkas and JoyRide—are currently in its motorcycle taxi pilot program. A third player, Move It, has a too insignificant footprint in the business to count.
There should be at least four players in the program so that commuters would have more choices, he said. He said trains, buses, and jeepneys are still limited to filling up just 70 percent of their seats.
“That means 30 percent are dislocated. How are they going to commute? While we’re reopening the economy, everyone should be ready, including those on two wheels, the motorcycle taxis,” he said.
There are now over 7 million motorcycles across the Philippines from just 3.5 million in 2010.
Sarmiento said just a fraction of that number would be more than enough to meet the commuting public’s needs.
Sarmiento is the main author of House Bill 10572, which seeks to legalize and regulate the operations of firms providing motorcycle-for-hire services.new
Once it becomes a law, the bill will allow all qualified companies that employ motorcycle riders via ride-hailing apps to ferry passengers or deliver food, parcels and mails to secure a franchise from the government.
The bill, which is a consolidation of 18 other proposals, has already passed third reading.
But progress has been stalled at the Senate, which is working on a different version that may require consolidation by a bicameral conference committee.
But discussions on the Senate bill are being held up.
Sarmiento said he remains hopeful President Rodrigo Duterte will be able to sign the motorcycle taxi law before he steps down this year.
The law will supersede the LTFRB’s pilot program.