Recto bill in Senate could lift ban on motorcycle-riding apps

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A bill has been filed in the Senate defining which types of motorcycles may qualify as public utility vehicles, which if approved will lift the ban on two-wheel vehicles from ferrying paying passengers.

Sen. Ralph Recto

Sen. Ralph Recto’s Senate Bill 2173 classifies public utility motorcycles as those with engines of at least 125 cc and can travel faster than 50 kilometers per hour.

The proposed measure is a new section in Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.

The Supreme Court, the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and even motorcycle clubs have all agreed that RA 4136 must first be amended before motorcycle ride-sharing services can be legally accredited.

“It is in response to the call for legislative action that I have filed the bill. Without this amendment, there is no way that authority to operate motorcycles as PUVs or TNVS (transport network vehicle service) such as Angkas can be granted administratively,” he said.

Because the bill is now in the Senate, the issue can be thoroughly debated by all the concerned parties in a proper venue, Recto said.

“I hope this bill triggers discussion on how government shall treat this growing transportation phenomenon of motorbikes ferrying paying passengers.”

Recto said almost 6 in 10 motor vehicles in the country today are motorcycles and tricycles. From 3.48 million registered units in 2010, their number, based on first half 2018 data, was projected to hit 7.5 million by end of December 2018.

A combination of public frustration over road traffic, lack of public transportation, affordable motorcycles, and rising household income has led to the motorcycle boom, Recto said.

Noong 2017 na lang, 2 million na bagong motorsiklo ang ipinarehistro. Nadagdagan pa ng 1.1 million mula January hanggang June 2018. The Philippines is having more new motorbikes than new babies annually,” he said.

“When there is a shortage of PUVs and a surplus of motorbikes, the entrepreneurial spirit kicks in. This gives room for the Pinoy diskarte of making money on the side. Kung may demand, papasok ang supply. And this is the reality on the ground government can no longer ignore,” he said.

“In some rural areas, motorcycles are the only mode of transportation on rugged, winding and narrow upland roads that cannot be negotiated by four-wheeled vehicles. In many gridlocked urban streets, it is the fastest,” Recto said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Recto believes government should step in and prescribe the rules, “for the sake of the riding public.”

Una, sa tingin ko, dapat may insurance ang pasahero. May speed limit. May mahigpit na regulasyon kasi ang motorsiklo ay isang special vehicle that requires a different driving skill set,” he said.

Under Recto’s bill, the operation of public utility motorcycles, including safety features, shall be governed by rules promulgated by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the DOTr.

“Legalizing motorcycles-for-hire would help regulate its operations, at the same time protect both the driver and the riding public. At a time when jobs are scarce, it provides a livelihood opportunity,” Recto said.

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