By Leonel Abasola

(PNA photo by Jess M. Escaros Jr.)

MANILA – Motorcycle taxis (MTs) must adhere to the highest standards of road safety before the government grants them a stamp of approval as a safe mode of public transportation, according to Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday.

Land Transportation Office (LTO) data showed there are around 19.2 million motorcycles in the country or about 87 percent of all registered motor vehicles as of 2022, according to a news release from Poe’s office on Tuesday

One out of three Filipino households owns a motorcycle and 51 percent of them use it for livelihood, the LTO data stated.

However, Poe also cited reports from the Global Status Report for Road Safety of the World Health Organization that nearly 30 percent of all road crash deaths worldwide involve powered two- and three-wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles, mopeds (lightweight motorized bicycles), scooters and electrical bikes.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority data in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City from January to August 2022 said there were 1,010 motorcycle-related incidents — nine caused fatal injuries, 557 resulted in non-fatal injuries, and 444 resulted to damage to property.

“The established vulnerability of motorcycles as a mode of transportation calls for the government to step in. We need to legalize to reflect the reality on the ground but we also need the highest safety standards to make this a true mobility alternative,” Poe said in a statement.

Poe said the results of the Department of Transportation pilot study on the viability of motorcycle taxis which started in 2019 can be used as a basis for legislation.

During Tuesday’s hearing of the Committee on Public Services which she chairs, Poe said more than four years of continuous studies by a technical working group showed 96 percent of passengers believe the government should allow MTs.

Passengers cited affordability and quicker conveyance time especially in clogged streets of urban centers.

“We need to legalize to reflect the reality on the ground but we also need the highest safety standards to make this a true mobility alternative,” Poe said during the hearing that seeks to gather inputs for the legalization and creation of a regulatory and safety framework on the Transport Network Vehicle System.

Senator Raffy Tulfo also suggested that MT companies expand their operation to provinces to help the government get rid of illegal riders. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)