LTFRB rejects Grab plea to resume GrabBike operations

MANILA, Philippines — The country's land transport regulator rejected Grab Philippines’ petition to resume GrabBike operations, saying motorcycle and bike services may not be considered alternative public transport until the safety of riders is assured.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said in a statement on Friday, March 4, that it supports the Department of Transportation and Communications’ (DOTC) position prohibiting the use of motorcycles or bikes as a mode for public transport.

In a letter reply to Grab Philippines by the DOTC dated February 26, it said that motorcycles and bikes are not considered as public transport due to safety reasons. 

"It is not also line with the Department’s policy of shifting to higher capacity public transport system especially in dense urban areas,” DOTC’s reply read.

DOTC said in the letter that although Grab Philippines presented the safety and security features they are adopting in relation to their request, bike riders are still the most vulnerable road users on national streets.

Fatality rate

LTFRB cited a Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System database, stating that motorcycles have the highest fatality accident rate in Metro Manila from January to November 2015. 

Out of the 696 road fatalities recorded in that period, 236 were due to motorcycle accidents, LTFRB said. 

It was just in November 2015 when Grab decided to pilot its motorcycle service called GrabBike in Makati City and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

Just two months after, GrabBike faced resistance from the government. (WATCH: Road-testing the GrabBike)

Last January 27, LTFRB ordered GrabBike to cease operations until the regulator has promulgated guidelines to authorize the service.

"Our main objective is to provide the commuters safe, reliable and convenient transport system; recognizing motorcycles as ‘for hire service’ or a form of public transport doesn’t fit into the policy framework of the Department," LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez said.

LTFRB said the agency and DOTC have been introducing ways to solve congestion by reducing vehicles on the road. 

One solution LTFRB said it has been doing is the launching of premier point-to-point bus services that can be availed by all commuters.

"The Board remains firm in exercising our authority to regulate land-based public transportation, we will not tolerate transport operators to provide transport service using motorcycles or bikes until we have set the proper guidelines and regulations," Ginez said.

To date, there is no department order that covers the operation of a motorcycle or bike services through the use of an Internet-based technology platform to facilitate a pre-arranged transportation for passengers.

On Wednesday, March 2, GrabBike driver Mon Carlo Gaya was apprehended by LTFRB when he accepted a booking reserved by the LTFRB chairman.

Ginez said this confirms that despite a cease order, GrabBike continues to provide the bike service.

The LTFRB has impounded the motorcycle of Gaya, while he faces a fine amounting to P6,000. — Rappler.com