Transport agency denies it imposed ‘heavy passenger’ restriction on Angkas

On left, an Angkas biker, at right a screenshot of the app’s latest update. <i>Photo: Mark DeMayo / ABS-CBN News; Angkas app screenshot</i>
On left, an Angkas biker, at right a screenshot of the app’s latest update. Photo: Mark DeMayo / ABS-CBN News; Angkas app screenshot

The Transport Department’s technical working group (TWG) today denied that it ordered ride-sharing service Angkas to refuse rides to heavy passengers.

This comes after a “weight safety check” feature appeared on Angkas’ app last night, which asks passengers to divulge their weight. The app said that the feature was a “government requirement,” and that the government allegedly required them to ensure that heavy passengers are not assigned to small motorbikes.

Photo: Screenshot from Angkas app / Coconuts Manila

In an interview with radio station DZMM this morning, however, TWG consultant Alberto Suansing insisted that they required no such thing.

“During our discussion with them, what we said was that they should be able to carry passengers safely. Now, it’s up to them… We didn’t say it like that,” Suansing said in English and Filipino.

“The matter about the passenger’s weight, we didn’t tell them not to accept heavy passengers. What we emphasized is they should be able to carry the passenger safely.”

Photo: Screenshot from Angkas app / Coconuts Manila

Coconuts Manila reached out to Angkas this morning for comments, but the ride-sharing service had yet to respond as of press time.

It’s no secret that Angkas and TWG haven’t exactly been seeing eye to eye, not after the transport-approved body decided to controversially cut Angkas’ 27,000-strong fleet down to 10,000, irking both netizens and Angkas itself.

The TWG has also opened its motorcycle pilot run to two other players, MoveIt and JoyRide. JoyRide’s entry in the pilot testing run has drawn flak from the public after it was revealed that Senator Aquilino Pimentel had personally endorsed its addition, and after JoyRide said its owners Ralph Nubla, Jr. and Bea Chua, were “family friends” of Pimentel who had sought his endorsement. (The TWG maintains that Pimentel’s endorsement had no bearing on its decision.)

The TWG’s pilot run of the previously illegal motorcycle taxis is set to conclude on March 23 after being extended twice. 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, no motorcycles will be authorized to operate as public vehicles unless a law approving the practice is enacted.

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