By Emmie V. Abadilla
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has welcomed a bill amending the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (Republic Act 4136) to allow motorcycles for hire to serve commuters.
The agency believes that the bill recently filed at the House of Representatives can convert motorcycles for public transport services although this requires "thorough study, deliberation and assessment."
Last month, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade created a Technical Working Group (TWG) whose report can serve as a resource for lawmakers deciding on the proposed amendments.
The TWG, which starts discussions this Friday, January 18, 2019, will tackle issues such as the capacities required of a motorcycle and its driver for public transport service.
They have to determine the types of motorcycle that can be awarded a franchise, the minimum Cubic Centimeter (CC) capacity, travel speed, franchise routes, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for motorcycle bikers looking to register as a PUV driver.
In addition, the TWG may also discuss which government agency will issue franchises, whether it is the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), or local government units (LGUs).
In the case of LGUs, the question is: Can motorcycle taxis cross municipal borders?
In regulatory terms, other issues include: will e-bikes or e-motorcycles be allowed to register as a motorcycle taxi?
Safety issues will also be covered in the TWG discussions – setting responsibilities and accountabilities in case of an accident. "We will listen to all parties, and determine if legalizing motorcycle taxis is what’s best for the riding public," transport officials maintained.
It is easy to say that motorcycle taxis are convenient and speedy as they can weave through traffic.
"However, when accidents involving passengers pile up and no accountabilities are made for the victims’ funeral and hospitalization expenses, should the motorcycle driver or owner be allowed to simply walk away without any measure of responsibility?"
The DOTr's concern is passenger safety and security, they stressed.
The TWG is composed of representatives from the DOTr, Land Transportation Office (LTO), LTFRB, Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Senate, and Congress.
Commuter welfare groups, road safety advocates, motorcycle manufacturers, motorcycle organizations and law schools are likewise part of the TWG.