As a veteran commuter, I have tried practically every form of public transportation available in the metro. From the LRT and MRT, traditional and hybrid jeepneys, the UV Express, tricycles, and pedicabs, to private cars from ride-hailing apps. The best option to beat the paralyzing city traffic is, however, a motorcycle. Due to its small profile, it can take passengers from point A to point B faster than any other vehicle on the road.
The switch to motorcycle taxis
Initially launched two years ago, Angkas is a motorcycle-hailing platform that offers safe, convenient and affordable motorbike transport. It is finally back online after a year-long hiatus bargaining with government regulators. Just like other existing transport network vehicle services, it allows commuters to book, communicate with, and track the rider’s location through the app. Instead of an air-conditioned SUV or sedan, however, you get a motorcycle and a friendly rider that does the piloting while you hitch a ride on the back seat.
All Angkas bikers go through a series of background checks, skill assessments, and rigorous safety training before getting deployed to pick up fares. Angkas management also formulated a set of rules for passengers to comply with the DOTR and LTFRB’s requirements. They require all passengers to wear high-quality reflective helmets distributed to their riders, as well as face masks, and hair caps for hygienic purposes. There’s also prescribed riding attire for passengers, which encourages them to wear t-shirts or long sleeves, pants, and closed shoes. Should the weather turn, there passengers are provided raincoats to keep the worst of the weather at bay. Known for its strong online presence, Angkas also uses its social media platforms to interact with and educate its passengers.
With the inefficiency of public transportation in our cities, the growth of motorcycle sales continues to increase, leading many motorists to own two-wheelers. Based on the figures from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), it has recorded a total of 1,216,735 newly registered motorcycles and tricycles from January to June 2019. This represents a total increase of 10.51 percent from last year. And with the arrival of Angkas in the local public transportation scene, the numbers are expected to increase further.
With over 27,000 riders on board, the company has provided a stable livelihood for all sorts of partner drivers. These include former OFWs, taxi drivers, and retired professionals like former members of the army and police. The majority of the bikers run full-time while others see it as their secondary source of income.
From a commuter’s perspective
I was one of the first passengers of Angkas back in 2017 and since then, they have applied a number of upgrades to improve their service. Following the stringent government-mandated safety measures after the approval of its operations, Angkas CEO Angeline Tham and her team required new and current Angkas partners to don the motorcycle taxi’s official uniform: a blue and silver reflective vest with an embroidered ID number on its back and a body strap on the side where passengers can grab onto while on their way. To complete the look, it is paired with the now-iconic Angkas helmet and ID card. Riders can also only go a maximum of 60 kph so you shouldn’t worry about getting into accidents. Angkas also expanded its operations outside Manila with its launch in Cebu. Their safety record has been encouraging, with more people downloading the app and trying the service for themselves. Who knows, it may reach other municipalities and provinces in the future.
For someone who’s always out and about, Angkas is a good alternative to take you to your destination. It offers cheaper fares with a flag-down rate of PHP 50. The standard rate for succeeding kilometers go from PHP 10 to PHP 15 pesos for Metro Manila. Fees are also directly paid to the riders. Unlike other ride-hailing apps, Angkas only accepts cash payments.
So if you’re a student who’s running late for an exam, or part of the working class who needs to make it to an early-morning meeting, adding Angkas on your smartphone’s app list is a must.
With the convenience it brings, these blue and black riders truly save the day.
Angkas is available in the App Store and Google Play.
Words by Jewel Sta.Ana
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE November 2019 issue