New advocacy group exposes underground motorbike-hailing on FB

A number of groups of motorcycle riders in Metro Manila are presently booking transport transactions online, according to Transport Watch PH, a newly launched transport advocacy group.

During its kick-off press conference, Transport Watch revealed that over 200,000 individuals have already joined online groups on Facebook, where they are able to book habal-habal services online. According to the transport advocacy group, numerous riders post their preferred routes and schedules online along with their mobile numbers, so potential passengers near them could contact them to book services.

“The underground transport service operators offer no insurance, no protection, nor proper training and accountability,” Transport Watch PH co-convenor Antonio La Viña told GMA News Online. “Because of this, passengers’ lives are placed at risk.”

Angkas deactivation
It can be recalled that this was also one of the reasons cited by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) when it ordered motorbike-hailing operator Angkas to cease operations on November 16, 2017.

Related article: Why motorcycle-sharing service Angkas can’t resume operations soon

At the same time, the agency underlined that under Republic Act 4136of Land Transportation and Traffic Code, motorcycles are categorized as private vehicles, which are not authorized to provide public services in exchange for fees. Angkas was also not covered by a new category that regulates transport network vehicle services (TNVS) like Grab and the soon-to-be-pulled out Uber.

Zero regulation
There are currently about 6 million motorcycles in the country. About a million of those have been converted into tricycles, which are regulated under the Local Government Unit code, according to transport safety advocate George Reyoca of Two Wheels One Nation. “There are five million motorcycles, and zero regulation for them,” he said.

Transport Watch PH said it will try to coordinate with Facebook to explore possible measures on how those habal-habal booking groups could be dissolved on social media.