On the first episode of BluPrint Conversations Season 3, we sit down with Angkas CEO Angeline Tham to tackle the glaring problems of urban public transportation, its adverse effects to the urban dwellers, and how professionalizing and legalizing the habal-habal can help ease the woes of the commuters.

“We’ve seen the traffic that we have and we really wanted to find a service to cut through the traffic and give time and power back to the people,” the Singapore-born CEO starts, explaining how the concept of the ride-hailing app, Angkas, came to be. She furthers that although there is habal-habal, an existing service that allows motorcycles to transport people, it is not as convenient, reliable, safe, and affordable in an urban setting.

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However, the same stigma against motorcycles has affected the alternative transportation that she started after leaving Grab. Safety concerns and traffic regulations have challenged what she and her team aimed to be a professional and legal version of the habal-habal. “I think the most current challenge really is the law, the regulation of this industry, which we’re fighting very hard for,” Tham says. She adds, “I think with the change of times, the law could not have predicted what would happen with the Internet … and this is something that we want to try and change, so that the law can keep up with what is happening on the ground and what the needs are of the people.”

Tham claims that Angkas helps people go from one place to another in a more agile manner, thus increasing mobility and productivity. She cites a Japan International Coordination Agency data from 2018 that shows that 3.5 billion pesos are lost in terms of productivity because of the congestion in EDSA alone. “You spend 2-3 hours in traffic on a daily basis, which is on average, what people normally do here. It takes away a lot from you,” Tham adds.

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Besides increasing mobility and productivity, Tham also aims to help with traffic decongestion, citing another research from Brussels that shows a 40% reduction of traffic times during the congestion period by replacing 10% of the cars with motorcycles on a stretch of road. Tham further stressed that this mode of urban transportation especially makes sense in most gridlocked countries.

With over 1.5 million app downloads and 27,000 drivers, 10% of which are women, Angkas definitely sees safety as a core value. Tham says that they will continue their safety advocacy as well as changing the minds and hearts of the people with regards to the service. “We want to be able to work on a regulatory framework around it because we believe that with a regulatory framework, that’s when you can make it really safe, not just for Angkas but for all the other bikers out there,” Tham furthers.

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