Motorcycle taxis are well on their way to becoming legalized. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives unanimously approved House Bill 8959 also called the Motorcycle for Hire Act on the third and final reading. There were 181 votes in approval with zero against and zero abstentions.

If passed into law, it will amend Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, that has thus far prohibited two-wheeled vehicles from serving as public transport vehicles.

Republic Act 4136, which was signed into law on June 20, 1964, prohibits the use of "motorcycles, scooters or motor wheel attachments" for public transport and as freight for pay (section 7, C). HB 8959 seeks to ammend that law and by allowing motorcycles to serve as another public transport option.

It is not without limitations. The bill stipulates that all motorcycles-for-hire must have at least 125cc in engine displacement and a "backbone-type" build, most likely referring to standard, business model, or street configurations. This disqualifies the majority of AT scooters and mopeds from serving as motorcycle taxis. Motorcycle Taxis may operate a prescribed route or make use of a ride-hailing app to obtain passengers. Finally, it also requires Motorcycle Taxi operators to be insured and provide coverage for themselves, their passengers, and third parties injured in an accident.

With the bill now approved by Congress, it is now up to the Senate to pass its own version of the bill.

Motorcycles for Hire Bill approved by House image

Last January 28, Senate Bill 2180 or the Public Utility Motorcycles Act was filed by Senator JV Ejercito. His version of the bill is radically different from Congress, allowing any two-wheeled vehicle weighing less than 1000 kg to serve as a Motorcycle Taxi. It only requires that the vehicle is capable of traveling faster than 50 km/h, have an engine larger than 50cc and is duly registered with the LTO. It does not specify any particular motorcycle type or build.

With the Senate Bill filed, it must undergo readings and be approved. After that, both the Senate and Congress bills must be discussed in a bicameral to iron out their differences and create a final version for the President to sign into law.

If signed into law, popular motorcycle ride-hailing service, Angkas, will be allowed to operate again, once ratified.

Earlier this year, Congress ordered the DOTr to create a Department Order allowing motorcycle taxis to operate while a law to amend the ban was drafted and passed. Congress has fulfilled its end of the bargain while the DOTr has yet to release its department order. The agency said it still needs to study the viability and risks  of allowing the vehicles to operate as public transport.