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DOTr: Angkas has 6 months to prove rides safe, drivers disciplined

BACK IN BUSINESS Angkas riders are seen along Ayala Avenue in Makati City in December last year before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board stopped the motorcycle-hailing company from operating. —RICHARD A. REYES

Heeding public clamor, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday allowed motorcycle taxis to operate in Metro Manila and Cebu starting in June—but only for a six-month test period.

The DOTr, which earlier went to court to assert that current transport laws bar the use of motorcycles as public utility vehicles (PUVs), said it would use the six-month period to assess the level of safety offered by such vehicles, their drivers’ discipline and the overall experience of their passengers.

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It will mainly monitor the behavior of the estimated 27,000 drivers who use the ride-hailing platform Angkas, which has waged a legal battle with government regulators for the right to operate.

“[The test period is] proof that the government listens to the public and that we are open-minded,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

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Warning to drivers

Tugade, however, warned Angkas drivers and the company behind the platform to “not waste the trust given to them to provide service to our riders.”

“If you fail our standards, we will not have second thoughts [about] halting the pilot implementation,” he said.

Under DOTr guidelines, for the next six months, commuters can take motorcycle taxis registered under Angkas without being apprehended.

Only 100cc to 200cc motorcycles can be used as PUVs; sport and off-road bikes are not allowed. The drivers must always be in proper uniform and wearing safety gear like helmets, reflectorized vests and safety belts that the passenger can hold onto.

60 kph speed limit

The drivers should also observe the 60 kilometers per hour speed limit and be on the road for only 10 hours a day.

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The DOTr will gather data and feedback regarding Angkas operations, including accident reports, traffic violations, passenger complaints, kilometers traveled and fares collected, among others.

The agency is imposing a “5-percent threshold” for accidents per motorcycle. Example: Out of a hundred trips, an Angkas motorcycle cannot figure in more than five road accidents.

The DOTr first tried to stop Angkas operations in 2017, arguing that Republic Act No. 4136 (Land Transportation and Traffic Code) prohibits two-wheeled vehicles from being used as PUVs because of safety issues.

Angkas later secured a Mandaluyong City court injunction against the DOTr crackdown. But the department raised the matter in the Supreme Court and obtained a temporary restraining order on the local court ruling.

For passengers’ sake

Shifting the battle to social media, Angkas waged an online campaign to be allowed to resume operations for the sake of its passengers who, it claims, have reached some 20,000.

In Metro Manila, Angkas charges P50 for the first two kilometers; P10 for up to 7 km and P15 for every km above 7 km, with a 1.5x surge cap.

In Cebu, it’s P20 for the first km, P16 for up to 8 km and P20 for every km above 8 km.

Angkas CEO Angeline Tham said she hoped that the test period “will serve to show legislators and regulators the viability of this mode of transport so we can fully pass [it’s legalization] into law.”

Jobert Bolanos, head of the Motorcycle Rights Organization, said the DOTr’s decision on Friday could be an opportunity to professionalize the operation of motorcycle taxis, also known as “habal-habal.”

“The war for legalization is over,” Bolanos said. “A new fight begins: To keep Angkas operating, it must pass the parameters set [by the DOTr] … a challenge far greater than the war [that had already] transpired.”

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TAGS: Angeline Tham, Angkas, DoTr, drivers, habal-habal, riders, SAFE, Tugade
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