A couple of friends, business associates, members of my staff, and myself, frequently use the ride hailing services Grab.
it was great at the start, especially during the time when we still had Uber as the primary alternative to regular taxis and other modes of public transport.
Back when there was some manner of competition between Grab and Uber, we could freely choose between the two services. Choosing was done by figuring out which one was more available and which one would cost less at a particular hour.
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Today, however, we are forced to use Grab because it is the only ride hailing service available and we’re not too happy with it at all. (And yeah, as for the regular taxis, good luck with getting a rickety one that’ll go your way without offering a bribe on top of the fare.)
But what’s bad with Grab? First, the rates are atrocious at peak hours and second, more often than not, the car 3 out of 5 cars that pick you up are pretty beat up — the suspension is out of whack, aircon is barely cold, and you can almost feel the spring wires of the seats.
Grab appears to have become a monopoly, if it isn’t one already in fact. As with monopolies, its service is bound to get even worse as the years wear on. Especially in an environment where other modes of public transport are barely worthy of being considered as actual options.
As professionals, we need public transportation that not only can get us from point A to point B, but also have us arrive there unruffled and most importantly, ON TIME.
Right now, the only other option to Grab seems to be Angkas — a ride hailing service which uses motorcycles instead of cars.
Let me emphasize that it only SEEMS to be an option because there’s nothing else to choose from.
I, myself, haven’t experienced riding Angkas to a meeting. But, it doesn’t take too much figuring out that as a choice, it is only so because it’s better than nothing. (Come on guys! Who wants to zip through all the diesel fumes while the tropical sun bears down on you?!)
If, like Grab, it is THE ONLY motorcycle taxi available, it will predictably become not much of a choice.
Why am I saying that Angkas is going to monopolize the motorcycle taxi service?
This is because Angkas is one of five motorcycle taxi hailing services but it is THE ONLY ONE allowed to undergo pilot implementation by the Department of Transportation’s Road Transport and Infrastructure headed by Undersecretary Mark Richmund M. De Leon.
In a memo to MMDA Chairman Danny Lim in September this year, Usec. De Leon said:
“The proliferation of motorcyle taxis and habal-habal have raised various issues on public safety and increased public clamor demanding the legalization of motorcycle taxis as an alternate mode of public transportation.
“In response, this Department created the Technical Working Group to study the current state of legislation, and the paramount concern for the safety of the riding public.
“After a series of meetings and consultations, the TWG members unanimously agreed that for the pilot implementation, only Angkas will be authorized to participate for the purpose of strict monitoring and safeguarding the passenger safety. The pilot implementation was launched 26 June 2019 and will initially run for six months.
“However, this Department received several reports on the alleged operations of motorcycle ride-hailing companies, posing as part of the pilot implementation of Motorcycle Taxis. Given that there is no formal authority on their participation, the accountability of the companies, in case incidents occur, will be difficult to monitor on the part of the Department and enforcement agencies.
“In this regard, the undersigned respectfully requests your office to stringently enforce against the operations of habal habal and other ride-hailing companies exploiting the pilot implementation as an excuse to operate.”
Right off the bat, there is something very suspicious about the reason given by Usec. De Leon as to why ONLY ANGKAS is allowed to participate in the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis.
He says that the Department and enforcement agencies can only monitor Angkas, but the fact is we have several layers of traffic enforcement agencies piled on top of the other!
Moreover, would other motorcycle taxi-hailing services operate so differently from Angkas such that it would overextend the DOTr’s capability to monitor all of them?
Here’s the clincher, Usec. De Leon says the Technical Working Group unanimously voted for Angkas but didn’t say that one Jobert Bolanos, who is allegedly connected with Angkas, is a member of the TWG.
What qualifies Bolanos to be part of the TWG? If he is there because of some association with Angkas, perhaps as a stakeholder representative, shouldn’t other motorcycle taxi hailing services also be represented?
If Angkas is the only one represented in the TWG, could Bolanos have influenced… OR EVEN DICTATED the terms of the DOTR’s General Guidelines For The Pilot Implementation of the Motorcycle Taxi Service… THUS CONSTRUCTING THE RULES SO THAT IT WOULD BAR OTHER MOTORCYCLE TAXI SERVICES FROM QUALIFYING!
As the Pinoy would say, “Lutong Makaw ang motorcycle taxi pilot implementation” — the decision was unanimous because it was rigged to favor Angkas.
If this was the case, what was Usec. De Leon doing while all this was happening? Did he abdicate his role in the motorcycle taxi pilot implementation and designated Bolanos to rule over this new highly profitable transport subsector?
Why would Usec. De Leon do such a thing??? I am sure the Undersecretary can explain his side and I hope he does.
Bolanos, from his actuations on Facebook seems to be speaking for the DOTR and has been seen actively disparaging other motorcycle taxi services on Facebook as if he were the sole authority on public safety — which he isn’t.
At this juncture, I appeal to Secretary Art Tugade to look into the actuations of his undersecretary because it doesn’t seem to be inline with providing not only safe public transport but also to safeguard against UNFAIR COMPETITIVE PRACTICES as well as PROVIDING THE CONSUMER/COMMUTER with choices.
We’re already stuck with just GRAB, don’t allow us to be stuck with only ANGKAS.