After 3 years, Angkas is still not making money

MANILA, Philippines – Even after 3 years of being the country's pioneer motorcycle ride-hailing firm and amid its increasing popularity, Angkas still struggles to make money.

On Wednesday, December 4, Angkas founder and chief executive officer Angeline Tham said the investment they put in to maintain the standards of the platform makes it hard for them to earn money, even with around 27,000 Angkas bikers on the street.

The motorcycle-hailing firm fails 70% of biker applicants, which Tham says allows it to keep certain levels of safety standards. In the case of Angkas, the free training program for its riders results in a 99.997% safety rate. 

"That's the price you pay for keeping the quality of the platform," Tham said during a panel discussion on corporate governance.

It remains unclear when the company can gain profitability. For now, Tham said it has become more of an advocacy for road safety. 

Tham said that riders who fail the training can still re-apply. She cited one that took the program 7 times before becoming an Angkas rider.

"Talagang binubusisi po talaga natin 'yung bawat isang driver natin to make sure na talagang 'yung pinakamagagaling na driver ang nasa daan para sa Angkas," said Angkas chief transport advocate George Royeca.

(We really evaluate each driver to make sure that the best drivers become Angkas partners.)

Further, Royeca said run-ins with the government in the past have also taken a toll on the company.

"We operated for a few months in the beginning, then after that nagkaroon po ng injunction, we operated for about 4 months, and then ngayon another 6 months during the pilot phase. So on and off operations po, talaga pong nakasakit po dun sa operasyon ng companya," Royeca said.

[We operated for a few months in the beginning, then after that we had an injunction, then we operated for about 4 months, and then another 6 months for the pilot phase. So on and off operations really took a toll on the company.)

In November 2017, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board closed Angkas due to the lack of a mayor's permit. In September 2018, the firm got a preliminary injunction allowing them to continue operations.

Then finally, earlier this year, the Department of Transportation approved a 6-month pilot run for Angkas which started in June.

With the pilot run ending in December, Angkas hopes for a positive recommendation by the technical working group, and further on, the legalization of motorcycles as a form of public transport. (READ: Why Angkas is illegal) – Rappler.com

Loreben Tuquero

Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.

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