A motorcycle is an essential tool in any developing country as it is not only relied on for personal mobility but for commercial purpose. Aside from being used in delivering parcels and other commodities, motorcycles can also ferry passengers to help address the demand for reliable public transportation. In South East Asia, motorcycle taxis have been in existence for some time now and becoming even more popular and convenient through the use of mobile App-based services.
This type of motorcycle-hailing service has recently become popular among Filipino commuters but unfortunately, Philippine Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code currently prohibits two-wheeled vehicles from being utilized in transportation business. In a statement released by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Secretary Arthur Tugade stated, “We understand that a number of Filipinos patronize motorcycles as public transport, but we should remember that there is a law against this. But, we at the DOTr know how to listen. So we have already formed a Technical Working Group (TWG) to study the prospect of motorcycles serving as public transportation. This is also in light of the recent resolution of the House of Representatives , urging the DOTr to draft implementing guidelines that will temporarily allow ride-hailing companies to operate while legislation makes the necessary amendments in RA 4136.
The said TWG aims to discuss the appropriate standards and capacities of a motorcycle and its driver for public transportation service. These include determining the proper type of motorcycle that can be granted a franchise, the minimum Cubic Centimeter (CC) capacity of motor, travel speed of motorcycle taxis, franchise route, seat and helmet requirements, and training requirements for motorcycle riders looking to register as a Public Utility Vehicle driver.
The TWG is comprised 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 of Representatives, commuter welfare groups, road safety advocates, academe/law schools, motorcycle organizations and motorcycle manufacturers, represented by the Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association (MDPPA).
The MDPPA has been actively participating in TWG meetings by the DOTr to address concerns on safety and road-worthiness of motorcycle models to be used. While ride-hailing apps have limited accreditation of motorcycle units of 100 cc-200 cc engine displacement, MDPPA maintains its position that practically any motorcycle model is safe to be used for transport service regardless of engine displacement provided that its overall design incorporates a passenger seat and rear foot pegs. MDPPA also reminds all concerned that a motorcycle is designed to carry a maximum of two persons, one rider and one passenger. Having more than two occupants at a time compromises the handling and safety of the vehicle. In addition, the MDPPA stresses the importance of the wearing of proper protective gear for both rider and passenger.
Currently, the TWG is in the final stages of formalizing the implementing rules and guidelines, and ride-hailing firms will soon be permitted to operate legally to help ease the country’s public transportation woes. This new development not only benefits motorcycle owners by providing them additional source of income, it also helps in improving the quality of life of the passengers by making the daily commute more affordable and convenient.