Can a motorbike be a public utility vehicle?

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Our laws says that a motor vehicle can be issued an authority by the government to become a public utility vehicle. Called a certificate of public convenience, it is issued by the Land Transportation Office.

Under the law, there are several prerequisites for the issuance of a CPC, which are the following:

  1. Applicant must be a citizen of the Philippines. If the applicant is a Corporation, 60% of its capital must be owned by Filipinos
  2. Applicant must prove public necessity
  3. Applicant must prove the operation of proposed public service will promote public interest in a proper and suitable manner; and
  4. Applicant must have sufficient financial capability to undertake proposed services and meeting responsibilities incidental to its operation. (Kilusang Mayo Uno v. Garcia G.R. No. 108584, Dec. 22, 1994)

The question is— is it okey if government allows motorbikes to become public utility vehicles? In a 1964 law, Congress prohibited the conversion of motorbikes into public utility vehicles for the simple reason that two wheeled vehicles, are, more dangerous to ride than four wheeled. Congress past had considered public safety first before anything else.

Supporters of Angkas however, appealed to the Supreme Court and in a decision, the SC practically sided with them and allowed now for the LTO and other agencies to grant motorbike owners CPC’s. The decision is based on the reasoning of traffic congestion and motorbikes can actually ease the heavy traffic flows affecting the metropolis. Examples were given including countries in the Southeast region where motorbikes are used as public transport.

As an advocate for consumer and commuter rights, I think that motorbikes are not the solution to the burgeoning problem of traffic congestion in the metropolis. The fact is, by experience as a motorist, traffic becomes highly complicated when motorbike riders fill the streets with their presence. Check with the traffic divisions throughout the Metro, and you’ll find that most accidents which cause traffic congestion are caused by motorbikes either being hit by four wheeled vehicles or by self-accident.

How many passengers can a motorbike accommodate? One per bike. So, it needs probably a 100,000 motorbikes just to cease the 1.4 million complication the Metro experiences daily. Imagine the space these number of motorbikes would occupy.

Are most motorbike operators disciplined enough as motorists? Do they follow traffic rules? As a daily motorist, I had numerous brushes with them and frankly, they are, to be entirely modest about it, free spirits running amok in our streets. Traffic congestion is all about space, and these motorbike operators run around not just in circles, but practically in every direction whenever they are on the road. How do you manage traffic then with these motorbikes?

As I observed, motorbikes as public utility vehicles are best in the countrysides where there is enough space to roam around. In Vietnam, yes you can see motorbikes in urban cities and they are exactly why these cities are congested– they have more than enough motorbikes on the road than four-wheeled and the reason is economic rather than a necessity.

How do you solve a traffic congestion problem with motorbikes? You can’t. You even complicate the issue. The best solution is really buses which occupy a specific space yet, can accommodate as many as 50 to 60 per bus. This is better than 25 motorbikes running amok in our streets. For buses, one space and if the driver is disciplined, buses avoid accidents. I cannot really say that to our motorbike operators.

Before government allows such motorbike operation, the LTO must ensure first that every single motorbike operator knows the traffic rules and is psychologically prepared to follow them to the letter. If not, then, don’t promote its use because these bikes would surely worsen rather than alleviate the traffic congestion problem.

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