Angkas Chief Transport Advocate George Royeca, in a statement during a press briefing, said that they will continue to cooperate with government regulators, including the LTFRB, towards the success of the motorcycle taxi pilot run. This, amidst news of violating regulations, riders capping, and charges of “bullying.”
I say, it was a breath of fresh air from all the negative buzz hovering lately. The motorcycle taxi company recently faced several challenges and accusations in reference to its operations. One is the seemingly disregard of its participation on the pilot run. Second is facing the regulation for the 20,000 riders cap.
Angkas commends regulators
“First off, I would like to commend the government for seriously considering motorcycle taxis as an added transport option for Filipino commuters amid the ongoing traffic crisis,” Royeca stressed. “We are also hopeful that lawmakers will find merit in what we have been espousing all these months-that motorcycle taxis are crucial to addressing our countrymen’s mobility problems,” he added.
Royeca also clarified that they are not picking a fight with government regulators. “Right from start, we worked hard to be compliant with everything the LTFRB and the DOTR’s TwG had set in the first motorcycle taxi test run. For whole months last year, there was never any problem,” Royeca noted.
“It must be noted that we complied with everything that the TWG asked us to do in the initial test run. We did a re-training of all our riders. We gave our riders safety vests based on the recommendation of the TWG, We are continuously complying to the best of our abilities with the new pilot guidelines,” Royeca revealed.
Not against competition
Royeca also emphasized that he was not against competition in the motorcycle taxi industry. ‘I would like to emphasize that even back then, I knew there will be new players as soon as motorcycle taxis become the subject of legislation and regulated,” he noted. “I have never aspired to establish a monopoly,” he stressed.
When word got out that the LTFRB will be extending the run with new players, Royeca was interviewed in the media and was reported to have said that he was totally fine with the inclusion of new players in the test run extension. “This means that people have begun to realize the importance of motorcycle taxis in helping our commuters beat the daily traffic,” he noted.
In a presentation he showed during the briefing Royeca reported that a total of 117,166 bikers have applied with Angkas. Of that number, 36,797 bikers were onboarded. However, only 26,478 were retrained and activated for the first pilot run and 10,378 were deactivated.
Three years to build a competent and safe bikers fleet
“It took us three years and dozens of safety training sessions and hundreds of hours of training to come up with a fleet of 27,000 competent bikers,” Royeca shared. “You cannot build a competent and safe biker network overnight,” he added.
Royeca also reported that in the three years since Angkas started, the Angkas app was downloaded three million times. In the course of the pilot run, they have recorded millions of rides. In terms of the service’s safety record, Angkas riders had only .003% accidents with zero fatalities.
Angkas also has in place an Emergency Response Team and Medical Accident Network with Six Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)-trained full-time employees, 42 EMR-trained biker respondents, 12 on-call doctors, and eight affiliate hospitals. During the initial pilot run, the average response time recorded was 30 minutes.
Royeca also reported that Angkas has set aside an accident emergency fund to cover expenses above and beyond what’s provided by the private insurance. The company also ensures proper financial controls and standard operating procedures for quick fund disbursement for immediate patient assistance.
Investing in continuous safety training and support
We have invested so much in continuous training – our trainors have been trained by a US firm that trains the US Marines and conducts motorcycle rider licensing and accreditation for the California and Pennsylvania State Department of Motor Vehicles. They have also undergone training with the
Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (HPG), and we are continuously working on updating and improving further our trainings,” Royeca noted.
“Moreover, I believe a support system for our bikers is necessary after they’ve passed our screening in order for them to continuously provide excellent service to our customers,” Royeca added, stating that their system averages doing assistance to 360 riders per day.
In terms of training, Royeca reported that they have retrained over 20,000 bikers for the initial pilot run. They had a total of 50 field retraining activities with riders getting retrained practically every week.
For six months from July to December of 2019, the safety record of Angkas was reported as 99.997%. “We tried our utmost best to maintain a high safety record for the benefit of all our passengers. We are proud to say that our high service standards were maintained in the test run,” Royeca stressed.
When asked about their pricing scheme, Royeca said, “The reason for our dynamic pricing is essentially to be able to encourage more bikers on the road to meet the demand. But because it is not allowed in the pilot, we will comply. We just want to give a heads up that this may result in bikers going back to habal-habal and that there’d be substantially fewer Angkas bikers on the road.”
The riders cap: the real issue
“So, again, I would like to emphasize that our fight is with a particular provision and not with the government bodies. Our fight is with the riders cap-an unfair and anti-competitive provision that will effectively punish the majority of our riders who have been working hard for six months,” he noted.
“What we really want is to have the cap removed or increase the cap for all motorcycle taxi providers, not just Angkas, because the market is still terribly underserved and we need more bikers on the road,” Royeca emphasized.
“We will try our best to be compliant with government rules and regulations,’ Royeca declared. “And I would like to reinforce on public record that we have always and will continue to work with government regulators and not against them. But on the same breath, we ask for fairness, in consideration of all the hard work we have done to comply with government regulators since last year.”
I sure hope that the issues will be settled soon. A TRO has already been issued against the rider cap in favor of Angkas. During the press briefing, Royeca also clarified the ownership issue of Angkas. He admitted that initially, it was indeed largely owned by a Singaporean entity, but later on he took on the reigns to comply with the Philippine law wherein companies serving the local market should only have 40% foreign ownership.
At the end of the day, the riding public should be the reason of all this, should the government decides to make motorcycle taxi operations in the Philippines legal or not. Although Angkas is decidedly leading the game, the presence of other players should give the technical working group enough data to make an informed decision at the end of the pilot run.