(EDITED PRESS RELEASE)
As Angkas suspend operations while seeking dialogue with the LTFRB, Manila has lost a practical alternative mode of transportation.
This comes at a difficult time for metro dwellers, with the upcoming holiday season bringing traffic to a fever pitch. Given the continued growth of car sales (a record 420,000 units were sold last year, with 65% percent of the vehicles hitting the roads of Metro Manila), a solution to the gridlock doesn’t seem obtainable at the moment.
In 2015, then-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan mentioned that the country’s every day potential income loss had grown to at least 3 billion pesos due to worsening traffic. With the recent incidents involving the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT), which serves approximately half a million passengers every day, Angkas was and would have been a saving grace.
Angkas gave passengers a safer, more professional alternative to the habal-habal that have long plied Metro Manila roads. It required safety training, skills assessment, background checks and a professional license before onboarding bikers to its platform, and offered safety gear, transparent prices and personal accident insurance to both its passengers and its bikers.
It is unfortunate that, due to restrictions in regulatory laws in the Philippines, Angkas was deemed illegal, and had to voluntarily suspend its services in order to engage with regulators. The move has caused strong sentiment among the public, who rallied to support the motorcycle app by sharing how Angkas not only helped them get their time back from traffic but also provided stable jobs to many.
Here are just a few stories shared by Angkas users about how the app transformed their lives.
Bianca Dalisay, posted on Facebook how through Angkas, she no longer needed to wake up at 4 a.m. to avoid spending 3 to 4 hours in traffic during her commute to Makati. It has even helped those who need to be at their workplaces quickly, like those in the medical profession, do their jobs better.
In Cebu, a city also known for heavy traffic, Angkas has become the preferred mode of transport as opposed to the older habal-habal, as posted by Berniemack Arrellano on Facebook.
Riding Angkas has also saved some riders from missing critical appointments, such as flights. Juliane Paulene Laguilles mentioned how hopeless she was while being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. She then saw an Angkas poster and tried the app.
Lifeline for riders
Angkas has not only aided thousands of commuters but also provided stable jobs for its bikers, giving them professional training and the opportunity to earn more for themselves and their family.
In a long post on Facebook, biker Roderick Manabat thanked Angkas for the many blessings it has brought his family.
Meanwhile, Ferds Llaguno, a working student who recently graduated in Criminology in Cebu thanked Angkas for helping him to pay off his tuition fee debt. Through his continued work as an Angkas biker, he had hoped to eventually take his board exam, a dream that would not be possible for someone with a minimum wage job who is also burdened with debt and needing to support a family.
The loss of Angkas is also tremendous for women like Ehlie Roxas, a full-time student. Instead of her husband being able to help care for their child part-time, she posted, he now has to take a full-time job to make ends meet.
Managing traffic in a growing city like Metro Manila is certainly no easy task. With more cars on the road increasing traffic congestion, Angkas hopes to work with the LTFRB to be a part of the solution. It has reached out to the agency with a plea for two-wheeled vehicles to be included under the TNVS or Transportation Network Vehicle Service category. Many citizens have also joined this call, sharing their stories online and urging regulators to engage with Angkas.