It isn’t a Merry Christmas for the Angkas bikers and their riders.

Angkas was conceptualized by its founder and CEO Angeline Tham sometime in 2015 after Tham got late for several meetings after spending six hours in traffic. Tham worked for the Philippine office of Grab until it halted its motorcyle hailing service after which she decided to launch Angkas.

The legality of Angkas' operation has been challenged by the government. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LFTRB) suspended Angkas' operation in November 2017 over lack of a business permit and safety concerns regarding the usage of motorcycles in ride-sharing services.

Truth is, a lot of working people prefer taking motorbikes as their mode of transportation, as it is deemed to be cheaper and cooler than being in a jeepney. Even other motor-biking companies are now being called by their clients for deliveries of their packages that were in the past done by private cars, anywhere in Metro Manila. The same is done in other cities, and it is a popular mode for delivery of items. Faster and cheaper too, despite surcharges.

It is also true that traffic has really gone haywire, and it is perhaps better for those who prefer to take motorbikes to go and get to their destinations faster.

Even Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and other officials of the Department of Transportation last week reportedly experienced the struggles of Filipino commuters when they inspected the railways, as these officials suffered the long queues and cramped trains when the DoTr chief boarded the MRT-3 at Taft Avenue Station.

On December 2018, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on December 2018 which put on hold the implementation of the Mandaluyong court's decision. Despite of the high court's TRO, Angkas continued operations risking its drivers to arrest since it believe that the ruling didn't concern the legality of the company's operations itself.

What a mean-spirited Grinch the LTFRB has become!

Last December 20, the LTFRB issued a statement that the” inter-agency Technical Working Group (TWG) on Motorcycle (MC) Taxis has concluded a meeting with the shortlisted providers for the Extension of MC Taxis Pilot Implementation.”

Currently, Angkas has around 27,000 biker-partners.

In a statement, Angkas’ Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca said, “Coming into this pilot test run they already the 27,000-strong manpower on biker-partners alone, which many of them working for them since 2017.

According to Royeca, instead of allowing them to onboard more bikers and serve more commuters, the LTFRB now wants to trim their fleet from 27,000 to 10,000.

“That’s a compromise to the quality of service you can expect, and a direct blow to over 17,000 Filipino families,” he stressed.

“But that decision of the LTRFB is in reality cutting off anywhere from 17,000 to 20,000 existing jobs, which amounts to killing the bikers’ livelihood as they lose their jobs.

“Why not retain the number of Angkas motorbikers and, at the same time, have JoyRide and Move It going, too? That way, there will be more employed Filipinos helping the economy to move faster.

Technical Working Group has recently announced that once their pilot study ends, the provisional permits for bike-hailing services like Angkas, JoyRide and Move It will end as well. It means after March 23, 2020, no more motorcycle taxis. Well, the ones you can book via an app that is. The only option left for commuters would be habal-habal, its illegal version.

Unless of course, Congress moves fast enough to amend Republic Act No. 4136 to legalize the bike-for-hire services, commuters would have to find other solutions to the terrible and worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila on their own.

At the moment legislation that legalizes motorycle taxis pending in Congress are as follows: HB 8959 which was passed by the Lower House last February 4, 2019 and is now pending with the Senate; Senate Bills: SBN-50, SBN-128, SBN-409 and SBN-1025.

The pilot run for motorcycle-based TNVS Angkas originally scheduled to end on December 26, 2019. However, the Department of Transportation or DOTr is inclined to extend the pilot run to keep the ride-hailing service operating in the meantime. The extension was made on account of Angkas’ good reputation for rider discipline, road safety, and high quality of service.

The government through the Department of Transportation announced in May 2019 that it would provisionally allow Angkas to operate again. Pilot operations of Angkas' motorcycle taxis in Metro Manila and Metro Cebu were allowed by the government for six months from June 2019 so the firm's operation could be monitored by the state as part of a study regarding the legality of motorcycles as public utility vehicles.

However, a Change.org petition made by Angkas Spokesperson George Royeca says that the passenger service actually has a 99.997 percent safety record.

“It is a testament not only to the viability of using motorcycles for safe passenger services, but also of the massive improvements that a single committed organization can make to professionalize an industry,” the petition reads.

The petition also explains why Angkas continues its operations despite the SC’s Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against an injunction that stopped the Land Transportation and Regulatory Board from apprehending its drivers.

Take note; “The TRO does NOT suspend Angkas’ operations, but merely allows the LTFRB to once again apprehend Angkas bikers if they choose to do so,” it reads.

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