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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘King of the Road’ reclaims throne

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AFTER suffering its first slump for almost a decade, the motorcycle industry is expected to regain traction this year, reflective of the trend that motorcycles are now becoming a preferred transport option for both people and goods.

Land Transportation Office (LTO) Executive Director Romeo G. Vera Cruz, annualizing figures on the sale of motorcycles this year, said the industry will likely return to the 2.2 million units-sold level this year.

“We are recovering this year. For the four-month figure, there are about 750,000 new motorcycles registered with us. If you annualize it, the sales will come back to the level of 2.2 million units,” he said in a phone interview.

To recall, 2020 was a “dark year” for the motorcycle industry. After enjoying seven years of growth, sales of motorcycles in the country crashed by 30 percent to around 1.68 million, he said.

“The pandemic has more or less affected the buying patterns of the people, but we are seeing that they are now buying motorcycles. We are slowly normalizing,” Vera Cruz said.

He observed that motorcycles are becoming the preferred mode of transportation for many Filipinos, also noting that motorcycles are now being used more widely for the delivery of goods, particularly food. Motorcycles comprise almost 70 percent of the total motorized vehicles registered with the LTO, as of December 2020.

“We can observe that there are a lot of motorcycles on the road. And we expect that there will be a rise in motorcycle registration because of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, which puts criminal liability on unregistered motorcycle owners,” Vera Cruz said.

LTO Executive Director Romeo G. Vera Cruz: “We see a boom in the industry because motorcycles are faster. It’s a favorable thing that happened during the pandemic and I think it will continue beyond our current situation.”

Greater demand

The pandemic, it seems, has even accelerated the demand for motorcycle-based services.

“We see a boom in the industry because motorcycles are faster. It’s a favorable thing that happened during the pandemic and I think it will continue beyond our current situation,” Vera Cruz said.

For instance, Grab was able to capitalize on the need for food, groceries and delivery services through its platform by introducing and strengthening its portfolio of rider-based services.

In a reply to the BusinessMirror’s queries, Grab said: “On-demand delivery provides essential support to many Filipinos. Apart from the convenience that our consumers enjoy in having their essentials quickly delivered to their doorsteps, on-demand delivery services also provide an economic lifeline to many MSMEs [micro small and medium enterprises] and businesses during the toughest periods of the lockdowns by delivering their goods to the consumers staying at home.”

Grab added that the increase in on-demand delivery has also provided livelihood opportunities to many displaced Filipino workers.

“Through our partnerships with both the national and local governments, we have trained—and continue to support—thousands of displaced workers and welcome them on the Grab platform as delivery partners, providing alternative livelihood to support their everyday needs as well as their loved ones,” Grab said.

Some GrabCar drivers were even transitioned to be part of its delivery services through training programs set up by Grab.

Likewise, motorcycle taxi platform Angkas believes that its platform was able to cushion the effect of the pandemic on its riders.

Motorcycle taxis will rise again

Jedd Ugay, AltMobility: “Many people will be more open to using bikes if there are protected bike lanes.”

GEORGE ROYECA, the chief transport advocate of Angkas, said his group was also hit by the pandemic. However, Angkas used this opportunity to partner with the government in order to provide necessary services to combat the spread of the virus.

Today, Royeca believes that demand for motorcycle taxis “is getting better.”

“You’re seeing a slow change in behavior. We are now providing the supply and getting more and more drivers onboarded. What we are doing is somewhat of a restart,” he said. “The outlook is very positive, especially now. Motorcycle taxis are needed now more than ever.”

He believes that in the next 12 months, motorcycle taxis will rise to become a necessity.

“For now, we are ensuring that our online riders are earning almost at the pre-pandemic levels in terms of earning capacity. We are also providing alternative sources of livelihood for our riders,” Royeca said.

Coexisting with bikes

JEDD UGAY, a representative of AltMobility, a group composed of urban transport experts and advocates, noted that motorcycle riders should practice safe driving. His group has observed that there are some incidences wherein motorized vehicle drivers were “angry” at emerging modes of transportation such as bikes.

“They feel that they are being deprived of road space because of bikes. It would be best for the safety of everyone if bikes have their dedicated protected lane because if you mix motorized vehicles and bikes, there is a chance for accidents to happen,” Ugay, a transport engineer, said.

AltMobility, he said, also saw that active transport is becoming a norm for many Filipinos. Active transport includes pedestrians walking to their destination and biking.

“Because of the lack of public transportation, many Filipinos are resorting to active transport because they need to do something about their mobility. Biking is the most affordable alternative,” he said.

Ugay said the government should give this as an “inclusive option” to commuters through dedicated protected bike lanes.

“Many people will be more open to using bikes if there are protected bike lanes.”

Prioritizing safety

WITH the rise in the demand for motorcycles and bicycles comes the need for a safer environment from which they would thrive.

Vera Cruz noted that the Department of Transportation is putting premium on providing safe access to these modes of transportation.

“What we are focusing on is the road safety aspect, especially for motorcycles. Motorcycles are more vulnerable. We focus on road safety. We have some advocacies to help us in educating our people. We have to inculcate in them the importance of being qualified and responsible drivers,” he said.

He noted that the government is strengthening efforts in implementing laws and policies, such as the proper use of helmets, the proper modification of units, and the implementation of speed limits.

Vera Cruz admitted that in order for the government to really provide safer roads for motorcycles and bikes, roads in the Philippines have to be expanded.

“We really need separate lanes for both motorcycles and bikes. However, our roads are very few and narrow. If you dedicate a lane, you should also ensure that other motorists won’t lose theirs. We really need to seriously look into this measure and expand our roads,” he said.

Images courtesy of Walter Eric Sy | Dreamstime.com and Junpinzon | Dreamstime.com

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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