Motorcycle ride-sharing outfit JoyRide reportedly managed to recruit some 3,000 drivers to its nascent service after attending a rally yesterday organized by a pro-government group in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila, shortly after a senator confirmed that he endorsing the company to be included in a Department of Transport (DOTr) pilot program.
The rally, organized by the Duterte Quezon City Gladiators, was held to show support for the DOTr technical working group (TWG) tasked with overseeing the pilot program aimed at assessing the feasibility of motorcycle taxi services as a safe mode of public transportation. Bills filed in both houses of Congress seeking to legalize motorcycles as public vehicles (PUV) are currently awaiting votes.
Amid public calls to fast-track the amendment of the decades-old transportation law, the trial run has been extended twice since last year. Pioneering ride-sharing service Angkas was initially the only provider included in the pilot, with the DOTr deciding to open the trial run to other players in December. It also controversially cut Angkas’ 27,000-strong fleet down to 10,000 — and extended the same cap to the new players — irking both netizens and Angkas itself, which called the government cap a “direct blow to over 17,000 Filipino families.”
DOTr has recently allowed JoyRide and another taxi service called MoveIt to participate in the extended pilot run, which is now slated to end on March 23.
JoyRide and MoveIt were the only additional operators to make the TWG’s final cut. Four other motorcycle taxi hopefuls were excluded, including CitiMuber, EsetGo, Sakay, and VroomGo.
Yesterday, JoyRide managed to recruit 3,000 drivers towards its 10,000 driver cap after attending the Duterte Quezon City Gladiators rally. The rally’s organizers reportedly invited all three competing motorcycle taxi companies, including dominant player Angkas, but only JoyRide’s reps showed up, Rappler reports.
This latest extension of the motorcycle taxi pilot run allows the formerly illegal taxis to ply the roads under the watchful eye of the TWG. After the pilot run, the TWG will submit a report on the services’ viability, and their recommendation will be forwarded to Congress for deliberation. TWG Chairman Antonio Gardiola said that after the final pilot run ends in March 23, no motorcycles will be authorized to operate as a PUV unless a law approving the practice is enacted, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
Meanwhile, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III confirmed on Friday that he had personally endorsed JoyRide to take part in the TWG’s pilot testing.
Despite the TWG insisting that Pimentel’s endorsement had no bearing on its decision, the endorsement was still met with negative reactions, particularly after JoyRide disclosed that its owners, Ralph Nubla, Jr. and Bea Chua, are “family friends” of Pimentel and sought his endorsement.
“[A] pilot testing program must reflect real-life situation[s] and there should be competition and not a monopoly,” Pimentel said, defending his endorsement of JoyRide’s letter of application in 2018, while also noting that the application was initially rejected.
“We are not hiding anything. All the information about the owners is there” in the Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Eala said. “No one from the government is a member of JoyRide.”