A commuter group yesterday urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to conduct a thorough review and assessment of new motorcycle ride hailing firms that will be included in the pilot test.
Ariel Inton of the Lawyers for Commuter Safety and Protection (LCSP) said in a press briefing the group welcomes competition in the industry but wants to ensure the commuters’ safety with the entry of new players.
“We in the LCSP call on the DOTr to ensure that the welfare of the riding public is given priority by ensuring that the new players the agency is considering to include in the announced test run extension undergo a thorough review and assessment much like what the TWG (technical working group) did back then for Angkas,” Inton said.
LCSP earlier filed a petition for injunction with application for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction against five motorcycle taxi companies: We Move Things Philippines Inc. (JoyRide), Habal Rides Corp., I-Sabay, Sampa-Dala Corp. and Trans-Serve Corp.
The petition said their operations are unauthorized and may cause grave and substantial damage to the public.
“Our objective in the LCSP is to ensure the safety and protection of the riding public,” Inton, a former Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) member, said.
“And we are worried that the new motorcycle players who will join the test run may just endanger the lives of commuters because they do not have the same stringent safety standards as what the riding public has been accustomed to in the initial test run,” he added.
“We have requested an immediate restraining order to prevent grave and irreparable damage to the riding public in general, and to the pilot program in particular,” said Raymond Fortun of LCSP.
“Moreover, any accident during this critical period will also sabotage the pilot program,” Fortun added.
Early this year, the House of Representatives passed Resolution No. 2449 urging the DOTr to implement a pilot program allowing, monitoring and regulating the operation of duly registered and organized motorcycles-for-hire as an alternative public transport utility.
The DOTr then instructed various agencies to form a TWG composed of stakeholders and experts from the government and the private sector to discuss issues on the prospect of two-wheel vehicles operating as public transport.
The TWG was tasked to identify motorcycle types eligible to be licensed, taking into consideration factors like engine displacement, carrying capacity, operating speeds, routes, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for drivers, who will eventually need to obtain a public utility vehicle registration.
Upon the recommendation of the TWG, the DOTr allowed the six-month pilot test for motorcycle taxi operations in the Philippines starting July this year. Since only the motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas had been established and operating with an eight-month track record at the time, it became the sole subject of the pilot program which ends on December 26.
Meanwhile, Joel Bolano, LTFRB technical division head, said in a phone interview the TWG which is led by LTFRB is expected to issue this Friday or by Monday next week a decision on the extension of the motorcycle taxi pilot test and the guidelines for the inclusion of new players.
Bolano assured that the new player will undergo the same procedures that Angkas went through prior to the pilot test.
LTFRB also plans to put a cap on the number of motorcycle taxis operating in the country.
The government will continue the six months extension of the pilot test while waiting for the law that will legalize the operation of motorcycles in the country, Bolano said.
The extension of the pilot implementation aims to provide the TWG more time to widen the scope of its study on appropriate standards and capacities for motorcycles to be considered safe, convenient and eligible for franchise.
The DOTr heard proposals last November from six motorcycle taxi companies aspiring to participate in the pilot run being considered – Citimuber, JoyRide, MoveIt, EsetGo, Sakay and VroomGo.
The TWG is composed of representatives from the DOTr, LTFRB, Land Transportation Office and the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic.