On third and final reading, the Philippines’ House of Representatives has approved House Bill 8959 which allows and regulates the use of motorcycles as a means of public transportation.
One hundred eighty-one lawmakers voted in favor of the said bill that also requires would-be operators of motorcycles-for-hire to get insurance coverage for the driver, rider, and third party.
Motorcycles as public transport
Under the said House Bill, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is mandated to set and adjust fares, rates, and other charges needed for the operations, once franchising for such motorcycle as a public utility vehicle (PUV) is already in place.
Furthermore, the legislation also provides for penalties for erring operators of motorcycles-for-hire.
House Committee on Transportation Chairman Cesar Sarmiento said that the House Bill needs a Senate counterpart that will amend Republic Act. No. 4136 or the Land Traffic and Transportation Code and will consider motorcycles-for-hire as a PUV.
In 2018, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) had taken on a technical study on classifying motorcycles as public transport.
Economic loss due to traffic
A recent study by the Japan International Coordination Agency estimates that the country is losing P3.5 billion daily, economically speaking, because of traffic. In light of several infrastructures and new transport systems being constructed around Mega Manila and in other areas of the country, new bottlenecks are expected to build up.
Angkas, an app-based ride-hailing and logistics service provider lobbied for the approval of the said bill, citing that motorcycles are a faster means of public transportation.
On November 2017, the LTFRB suspended Angkas’ operations due to lack of a business permit and because the regulatory body disapproves of the use of motorcycles in ride-sharing service given the riders’ safety concerns.
Some lawmakers have urged DOTr to issue a department order allowing the likes of Angkas and habal-habal, or motorcycle taxi, to operate. However, the DOTr said that it is against the existing law to allow motorcycles to operate as a PUV, but the agency is in favor of an amendment to the country’s Land and Transportation Code.