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‘Ano na, 2020 na:’ Senators push for legalization of motorcycle taxis as PUVs

/ 07:17 PM February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Tuesday pushed for the passage of a measure that would legalize the use of motorcycle taxis as a mode of public transportation.

In sponsoring Senate Bill No. 1341 or The Motorcycles-for-Hire Act before the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, Senator Grace Poe said that the legalization and regulation of bikes-for-hire would help address safety risks present in both registered motorcycle taxis and the “colorums” or habal-habal.

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The said bill seeks to amend a provision of Republic Act No. 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code to classify motorcycles-for-hire as among the public utility vehicles regulated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“The optimal track, of course, is to always push for the better mass transportation system. Pero habang hindi pa natin napeperpekto o naaayos nang mabuti ang ating mass transportation, ang ating mga bus, ang ating train system, ay kailangan ng alternatibong pampublikong masasakyan ang ating mga kababayan,” Poe, head of the Senate public services committee, said.

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“Ano na, 2020 na. It is about time that we harness the power of technology to help us address mobility issues. In terms of numbers alone, shared motorcycles are an untapped resource that we should take advantage of,” she stressed.

Poe said that the regularization of such modes of public transport would also improve commuter welfare by giving them the option to choose legitimate service providers.

This, according to the senator, would then encourage the habal-habal drivers to migrate to a regulated system in order to improve their services.

Poe cited data from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) which showed that there more or less 18.8 million registered motorcycles which make up 71 percent of all registered vehicles in the country.

One in every three Filipino households owns a motorcycle, 51 percent of which is used to make a living, she noted.

“Mayroon ding 134 na habal habal terminals sa Metro Manila pa lang. Kung may ganito kalaking supply, ibig sabihin may demand,” Poe pointed out.

“Ito mismo ang dahilan kung bakit natin gustong kilalanin ang motorsiklo bilang pampublikong sasakyan. Their numbers grew as traffic conditions worsened; demand remained high even without a law regulating operations,” she added.

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She noted that at least 10 countries—namely France, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, and Mexico—have already legalized motorcycles-for-hire.

“This global trend shows that motorcycles can be safe given a properly implemented regulatory framework which puts safety as its top priority,” she said.

‘Biker-in-chief’

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also expressed his support for the bill and said he believes the President would sign into law the bill that would lift the 56-year ban on two-wheelers as a public utility vehicle (PUV).

“The motorbike is the ride of choice of the President,” Recto noted in his co-sponsorship speech.

“So what is good for the president must be good for the ordinary citizen,” the senator added.

Recto said the bill is the classic example of “legislation coping with technology.”

He said the prevalence and popularity of motorcycle taxis is something that the government could no longer ignore.

“Ours is a motorcycle republic. Seven in 10 motor vehicles today run on two wheels. At almost 19 million, there is one motorbike per family. And half of them are used to earn a living,” Recto pointed out.

“They are used to deliver food to the perpetually hungry millennial, deliver packages, and as tricycles that bring people to work, or produce to market,” he added.

Recto said that motorcycle taxis are a “product of necessity.”

This as he underscored the need for stringent conditions on how to make for-hire motorcycles “safe for the driver, for the passenger, and for the other vehicles on the road.”

“When the time to queue for an MRT ticket is longer than the ride itself, when buses are packed like Spam, hindi na po sardinas, when rides are so hard to come by that one has to wake up at 4 in the morning so he can be at work by 8, and leave at 5 in the afternoon with no guarantee that he can be home by 9, then relief comes in the form of an empty seat behind the motorcycle driver,” he said.

Needs of the riding public

For his part, Senator Francis Tolentino said the bill is a “timely and much-needed measure” that would regulate the operation of motorcycles-for-hire “in order to serve the needs of the riding public as a common carrier.”

Citing figures from the World Bank, Tolentino said that there are over 20 million motorcycle taxis in more than 100 countries as of 2017 which would increase by more than 50 percent over the next five years.

“Given the changing landscape and the rising needs of the commuting public, there is a need to respond to its challenges and regulate the same,” he said.

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go echoed the sentiments of his colleagues in pushing for the legalization and regularization of motorcycle taxis.

“Rather than banning and declaring motorcycle for hire as illegal, the State should regulate the use of such vehicles to make sure that (they) become a safe and sustainable option for transportation not only for commuters, but also for the riders and pedestrians,” Go said in his co-sponsorship speech.

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TAGS: motorcycle taxis, Nation, news, Senate, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, Senator Francis Tolentino, Senator Grace Poe
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