Enacting a law that would legalize and regulate motorcycle taxis in the country would help ensure that riders and their passengers are safe, and keep road accidents to a minimum.
Senators pointed this out at a recent joint hearing of the Senate Committees on Public Services and Local Government which is tackling the legalization of motorcycle taxis.
Sen. Grace Poe, head of the public services panel said there is a necessity to provide professional training to motorcycle riders to keep them and their passengers safe from road accidents.
“We need to legalize to reflect the reality on the ground but we also need the highest safety standards to make this a true mobility alternative,” Poe said.
“The established vulnerability of motorcycles as a mode of transportation calls for the government to step in,” she said.
During the public hearing, Sen. Rafael “Raffy” Tulfo questioned Angkas over the number of accidents involving them.
Angkas has been the market leader in the motorcycle taxi industry, holding 30,000 slots out of 45,000 made available under the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) pilot program.
Aside from Angkas, JoyRide and Move It are the two other motorcycle taxi companies that were allowed to operate under the three-year old pilot program.
Tulfo frowned at Angkas after noting that it has figured out in 7,500 accidents in 2022 alone, or more than double the recorded 3,069 accidents in 2021.
“There are so many instances na nakatanggap ako ng mga reklamo na ‘yung pasehero ang nagpapaluwal muna dahil ang hirap kausap ang mga kompanya tulad ninyo, kaya sila na ang napipilitan magluwal ng pera (I have received complaints that the passengers themselves shoulder the cost because the company finds it difficult to release funds),” Tulfo said.
“What I want is dapat kapag may naaksidente na rider ninyo na may pasahero, agad-agad pupunta kayo sa hospital, agad-agad babayaran ‘yung hospitalization, sagutin niyo everything (What I want to happen is that the company should be able to shoulder a passenger’s hospitalization and other needs immediately should there be an accident,” he said.
Poe, in response, asked representatives of motorcycle taxi companies to provide details of the training they provided their drivers, as well as other steps being taken to ensure passenger safety.
Meanwhile, Grab, which is setting its sights on joining the Philippine’s motorcycle taxi industry, said the company uses technology to monitor the behavior and driving skills of their drivers on top of safety and proper training of Grab drivers.
“Beyond training, we also use technology to track drivers’ safety performance and trigger more trainings,” Grab Senior Executive Vice President Lim Yew Heng informed the Senate hearing.
“We use that (app) to track drivers, so if we find drivers are driving dangerously, that would then trigger an alert,” Lim said, especially if their drivers made a sharp turn or if they drove beyond the speed limit.
Asked if they employ a similar strategy or technology, Angkas CEO George Royeca said: “we don’t have it to that level, but we do have a command center and we have marshals all over.”
“Sa JoyRide, meron po kaming mga marshals na umiikot sa Metro Manila, 24/7 po ‘yan. Mga grupo na hindi alam ng mga (JoyRide) bikers na ino-obserbahan sila,” said JoyRide Vice President Rico Meneses.
In a letter to the Senate panels, Lim assured that Grab’s safety rating in Southeast Asia is 99.9 percent, proving that motorcycle taxis can be indeed safe, efficient and reliable.
“Grab prioritizes safety through rigorous driver screening, training, real-time tracking and comprehensive insurance,” Lim said adding that they strive “to continuously improve safety practices and collaborate with regulators to establish guidelines that enhance safety standards for all stakeholders involved in motorcycle taxi operations.”
“By leveraging on our experiences in neighboring Southeast Asian countries, we believe we can collectively chart a path towards a sustainable and thriving motorcycle taxi industry in the Philippines,” he said.