Inter-agency body eyes to finish motorcycle-taxi pilot program before March

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 27)— The inter-agency body working on the pilot run of motorcycle taxis in two metropolitan areas is hoping to wrap up its study way ahead of schedule.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Alberto Suansing told CNN Philippines’ The Source that the technical working group plans to submit its recommendations to Congress before March, when the test run for the motorcycle taxis is expected to end.

“In fact, tinitingnan nga namin sa (we’re looking at) technical working group (TWG) if we can finish it earlier than March, then we'll do it,” Suansing said.

“Then terminate the program. ‘Pag tinerminate 'yung program, sinabi nga nila, as it was in the beginning, illegal nga 'yan,” he added.

[Translation: Then terminate the program. If the program is terminated, like we said, what they’re doing is illegal.]

The six-month pilot run of ride-hailing service Angkas was originally scheduled to end this month, but transport regulators have decided to extend the study for another three months.

In a bid to “gather” more data on the matter, officials accepted two more competitors— JoyRide and Move It.

Angkas officials earlier expressed caution with the entry of two “untested” players, saying the move will put the safety of passengers at risk.

The company also said the new policy would leave about 17,000 of its riders jobless, a claim transport officials have denied.

READ: LTFRB counters Angkas: More motor taxis expected next year

Suansing, however, said that despite government agencies’ recent word wars with Angkas, the working group will still practice objectivity as it crafts recommendations to Congress.

“If we find out during the study na ang epekto niyan is ganito (that this is the effect), we'll recommend sa (to) Congress na ganito ang epekto niyan (what these are). Taking into consideration other stakeholders, road users. We have to balance these things,” he added.

The pilot program was set up to guide legislators as they tackle the legality of motorcycles-for-hire.

Under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, only four-wheeled vehicles could register with the Land Transportation Office to transport passengers and goods.

Data from the Transportation Department revealed that only 2,204 riders from Angkas, 1,438 riders from JoyRide, and 1,1414 riders from Move It have been authorized by their providers as of Friday. The number is a far cry from Angkas’ original rider fleet of 27,000.