Photo courtesy of Top Gear Philippines

Officials of motorcycle-sharing service company Angkas must be grinning all the way to the bank.

After a series of legal squabbles over whether motorcycles should be allowed as a mode of public transportation, Congress and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are now looking for means on how to legalize motorcycle-for-hire services such as Angkas.

A bill has been filed at the House of Representatives amending certain provisions of Republic Act 4136 (Land Transportation Code) to allow motorcycles to be used for public transport.

The DOTr, on the other hand, has created a technical working group to review the issue, citing as its top considerations the safety and convenience of the riding public.

There’s no doubt that safety will be a top issue here. 

Government statistics from 2017 showed that motorcycle-related injuries comprise 69 percent – nearly two-thirds – of total identified transport incidents in the country. 

Fifty-three percent of all road accident fatalities are motorcycle riders, according to the World Health Organization, with majority of the deaths due to riders not wearing helmets.

And yet despite of this, motorcycles have become a ubiquitous mode of transportation in the Philippines. More than half of the 8.7 million registered vehicles (equivalent to 4.8 million) in the Philippines in 2015 are motorcycles.

Nowadays, “habal-habals” are found not just in the provinces where they are the primary (often only) means of getting through remote barrios, but also in Metro Manila as well.

Angkas commuters have emphasized that the motorcycle-sharing service is their fastest way of getting through heavy traffic, and an ideal way to avoid the long lines and crowded buses and trains.

As the Duterte administration has launched several big-ticket projects to ease the problems of traffic and mass transport projects in Metro Manila, motorcycle-sharing services like Angkas might be allowable as a temporary solution.

But the government must consider carefully its proposals to allow these as a permanent means of public transport.

While convenience of commuters is obviously one of the top considerations, we must also think about betting our lives, so to speak, on one of the road’s top killer vehicles.

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Monday, 20 January 2020
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