By Joe Zaldarriaga

Safety, fair play in the motorcycle taxi industry

With many Filipinos required to report physically to work whether daily or a few days a week, many have become dependent on alternative modes of transportation including motorcycle taxis to beat traffic in Metro Manila.

Despite the safety concerns hounding motorcycle taxi operations, it has become apparent that more commuters are using transportation network vehicle services (TNVS) as their preferred mode of transport. After all, it cannot be denied that traveling via TNVS significantly cuts travel time compared to commuting via jeepneys, buses, and passenger vans, admittedly for a higher fare.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr, in a recent Facebook post, expressed interest in relaxing the regulations on TNVS, saying “more transport options will benefit commuters, drivers, and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises).”

While more transport options are a welcome development for commuters, there is a need to strengthen regulation of the TNVS sector in a bid to promote road safety, encourage market competition to prevent monopolies and ensure fair play for the benefit of drivers, passengers, companies and even the government.

This need stems from the fact that our Filipino commuters deserve safe, affordable, and comfortable transportation options. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) motorcycle taxi pilot study is already a step in the right direction to ensure that public transport rules and regulations do not only meet the needs of commuters but also uphold integrity and accountability.

The pilot study is a critical point in the regulation of motorcycle taxi operations as it serves as an opportunity to address various concerns about the sector—ranging from safety, and service quality, to market share. Playing favorites at this stage will do the industry no good since it will only negate the essence of the study.

It is in this light that we must have discussions involving commuters, riders, motorcycle taxi operators, the regulator, as well as policymakers to achieve a balanced and effective regulatory framework that meets the needs of all stakeholders.

With the rapid growth of this sector, a regulatory framework for motorcycle taxi operations has become not only a necessity but an imperative. By formalizing the rules and regulations governing the motorcycle taxi industry, accountability is established for all stakeholders—government, operators, and riders.

It must also be emphasized that the government bears the responsibility of ensuring that the regulatory framework for motorcycle taxi operations promotes fair play in the sense that all operators meet the same requirements and undergo similar and strict licensing procedures to prevent monopolies. Of course, it goes without saying that achieving this requires the cooperation of all stakeholders particularly those from the private sector.

Equally as important as well is fostering healthy competition among motorcycle taxi operators to drive service excellence and provide commuters with more options. By encouraging healthy competition, motorcycle taxi operators are compelled to continuously improve their services, provide better customer experiences, enforce strict safety standards, and invest in new technologies to innovate their operations.

I am a staunch advocate for a more efficient transportation system that our commuting public, the majority of whom are our hardworking workers, rightfully deserve. My conviction stems from personal experiences, such as a trip from Palawan two years ago, where my family and I struggled to book a vehicle for our journey home. It was only Grab that was available at that time since Uber was no longer servicing commuters. We were left with no alternative but to get an airport taxi with an exorbitant rate, but that’s another story. Sadly, our ordeal is not unique, as similar stories abound, readily found on social media communities.

As we navigate these challenges and advocate for a better, fairer transportation landscape, it is crucial that we continue to voice our concerns and push for reforms. Through this, we can ensure that meaningful changes are implemented to create a more accessible and equitable transportation system- a cornerstone of our nation's progress.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.