It was a news item that topped the talk-of-the-morning conversations among metro commuters on Monday (November 27) morning. About 200 riders of app-based motorcycle-ride hailing service Angkas, which is currently on a temporary suspension of operations, convened before 5 a.m. along EDSA North Avenue to offer free ride to disgruntled passengers of Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3.
The original plan was to provide free rides to MRT passengers from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. as a way to show their protest to the ongoing suspension of the service. However, by past 6 a.m., representatives of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) came to convince the Angkas riders to stop their movement. Up to 140 Angkas riders had already given free rides to passengers with drop off points at other MRT stations by that time.
The short dialogue between the two parties halted the free ride offers. MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago explained that they had to stop the free ride offers “to ensure the safety of the passengers.” The Angkas riders agreed. But metro commuters, the authorities, and the Angkas riders their selves had several learnings from this:
1. Numerous dissatisfied MRT passengers would be more than willing to take other alternative ways to get to their destinations faster given the usually horrible queues at MRT stations and uncertainties about the time the regular and daily MRT operational glitches will occur.
2. When given the choice between Angkas service and the current P2P buses operating along EDSA, most passengers would prefer the former.
3. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) would hold a hearing about a possible Angkas regulation on December 12 “with Congress by our side,” according to LTFRB board member Aileen Lizada. This message sends a glimmer of hope to Angkas riders and passengers who have already been waiting for several days for any new development about this issue.
Meanwhile, it is still unclear if Angkas riders would continue with their plan to offer free rides to MRT passengers every Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays during early morning hours until their normal operations resume (if it will).