Motorcycle taxis, or habal-habal, will be able to legally operate in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu for the next six months, but only through ride-hailing services provider Angkas, under a pilot program approved by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has approved the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxi operations in partnership with Angkas starting June, after the conduct of an information campaign to ensure safety for both riders and passengers.
This will involve about 27,000 riders in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.
Tugade has also approved the guidelines drawn up by a technical working group (TWG) created in December 2018 to study the viability of motorcycles for public transport.
Motorcycles are not allowed to be used for public transport under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, or Republic Act 4136.
The six-month pilot implementation will, however, form the basis for possible legislation regulating motorcycle taxi operations, the DOTr said.
Aside from drawing up the guidelines, the DOTr came up with uniform rates for motorcycle taxi services.
In Metro Manila, a motorcycle taxi ride will cost P50 for the first two kilometers and an additional P10 for every succeeding kilometer up to seven kilometers. Beyond seven kilometers, the additional rate is P15 per kilometer.
In Metro Cebu, the basic rate is P20 for the first kilometer and an additional P16 per kilometer up to eight kilometers. Beyond this, the additional rate is P20 per kilometer.
The rates may be increased by up to 1.5 times during a "surge" or high demand.
The rates may be revised by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
The guidelines approved by the DOTr specify safety measures for both riders and passengers and require Accident Insurance.
An accident threshold of 5% has also been set. The DOTr said it may suspend the pilot program if motorcycle taxi accidents reach five for every 100 trips.
Riders are required to wear the proper uniform, observe a speed limit of only 60 kilometers per hour, and serve for a maximum of only 10 hours per day.
The DOTr created the TWG in response to the public clamor for Angkas to be allowed to continue operations. Angkas operations were stopped in December by the Supreme Court.
See related story: Angkas told: Cease operations or risk apprehension
The TWG that is studying the viability of motorcycles as public transport is composed of representatives from the DOTr, Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Senate, House, commuter welfare groups, road safety advocates, motorcycle manufacturers, motorcycle organizations, and law schools. TWG discussions started in January.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress over the past several years in an attempt to legalize motorcycle taxis.
It was only last February, however, when the proposals moved forward, with the House of Representatives approving a consolidated bill on motorcycle taxis.
House Bill (HB) 8959, or An Act Allowing the Use of Motorcycles as Public Utility Vehicles, is a substitute bill for six bills, three of which have been pending since 2016.
In the Senate, Senator JV Ejercito has filed Senate Bill No. 2180 seeking to regulate motorcycle taxi operations. (Ventures Cebu)