Case Study: Mobilizing Public Transport Champions with the Move As One Coalition

WeSolve helped organize improbable individuals and organizations to reform our public transport system. Together, we formed the Move As One Coalition.

WeSolve Foundation Inc.
6 min readAug 23, 2021
Pre-COVID19 Transport Situation

Purpose of this case study

This case study discusses how Move As One built a coalition backbone to advance the work of hundreds of public transportation champions with a shared vision of creating a safer, more inclusive, and more humane public transportation system in the Philippines. Move As One’s work has been supported by WeSolve, The Asia Foundation Coalitions for Change Program, Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP), Siptiani Foundation, and the Netherlands Embassy of the Philippines, among other development organizations.

In response to the transport crisis, around 20 people from different sectors decided to band together to support a Php 110 billion “Biyahenihan” Urban Mobility Reform Package for pandemic response and recovery, which would invest in contracting services of thousands of public utility vehicles (PUVs), and create better public transport infrastructure like pedestrian ways, protected bike lanes, and terminals.

COVID-19 Transport Situation

In May 2020, the newly formed Move As One coalition released its first statement in various social media platforms, which gained public support from 140 civil society organizations and 77,000 individuals from different sectors recognizing that systemic reforms were necessary to create a safe, humane, and inclusive public transportation system in the country. The broad Coalition now includes health care workers, transport workers groups, labor unions, cycling groups, commuters’ rights advocates, persons with disabilities, youth groups, economic reform advocates, urban planners, faith-based groups, and climate justice.

Coalition Challenge

With an ever-evolving situation and the economic and health impacts of the pandemic worsening every day, the Coalition needed to move quickly, while at the same time ensuring alignment of mutually reinforcing activities, advocacies, and priorities of 140 groups with different backgrounds, experiences, and focus areas.

WeSolve helped launch, grow, and sustain a coalition under immense time pressure due to an emergency health crisis.

  • How could such a broad network of advocates advance multiple, inter-connected, and complex interventions, and do so with volunteers unable to physically convene and most of whom have never met?
  • How could many advocacies streamline into manageable and agreeable agenda items, all while staying attuned to the interests and needs of the millions of commuters and transport workers Move As One was formed to serve?


WeSolve initially supported the coalition’s founding members to organize, assemble and streamline its launch operation as its core group grew to include sectoral organizers, policy analysts, operations managers, coordinators, and communications officers.

To support the wide and growing range of coalition members in advancing their agendas while maintaining a united front across the group, we needed to devise a backbone structure and a 2030 vision that would coordinate the coalition’s myriad activities and opportunities, as well as facilitate productive communication. The backbone structure needed to ensure that the coalition was able to leverage the unique strengths of each member, and facilitate mutual accountability for the success of the mission.

With a shared purpose firmly aligned among the group, during the build-up phase, WeSolve helped develop the infrastructure and strategy that would create three conditions for collective impact:

  1. Backbone organization: Create a secretariat with key representatives from across the main groups and additional champions
  2. Mutually reinforcing activities: Organizing the coalition into autonomous but interlocking agendas, with task forces driving each one
  3. Constant communication: Setting up and coordinating internal and external communications channels and protocols


The broadening of the coalition helped tackle the multi-dimensionality of the public transport crisis, by bringing different experiences, skills, and perspectives. Encompassing transport workers, economists, commuters, cyclists, youth, labor, persons with disabilities, health, and environment, Move As One is now recognized by as a voice representing the public interest on mobility issues: Move As One’s members are now invited regularly as a civil society representative in public forums in Congress, as a key partner for feedback on public transport programs, and as sectoral representatives in media engagements. Since it includes grassroots organizations known as strong advocates in the transportation sector for many years, as well as new groups and individuals who push for inclusion and mobility, the coalition’s positions on certain issues have gained credibility for its representation of a broad set of citizen perspectives.

The backbone structure that enabled efficient coordination and communication throughout networks upon networks of advocates and stakeholders also enabled the continuous harvesting of viewpoints, feedback, and learnings. Such an open feedback ecosystem allowed Move As One to expand its agenda from its initial policy lobbying focus, to also encompass advancement of improved infrastructure, cultural paradigm shifts, and imagining new institutions for sustained improvements to urban mobility through 2030.

Over just a year of working together, the Coalition has lobbied for more than P12.8 billion in public transport investments, which has more than 500 kilometers of bike lane networks in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao, and a service contracting system for dignified working conditions and living wages for public transport workers. This budget accounts for almost a third of the road-based public transport budgets allocated in over a decade. The Coalition members have also been very active in pushing for better road safety standards for active transportation.

The Coalition will need to adapt as the urban mobility system changes. As such, new agenda items are being added, while some are beginning to morph and blend as new parallels and interconnections are revealed. Supported by a dedicated backbone, the movement is expected to expand and welcome new groups, ideas, and concerns while maintaining cohesion and momentum.

Lessons We’re Learning

1. Coalition work is human first.

Guiding a coalition means more than just structuring the processes and work of the team. Because transportation and mobility issues are systemic, members are pushed to continue addressing these concerns immediately, pushing themselves to the limit.

The secretariat believes that working for the welfare of a bigger community means putting humanity at its core, and thus should begin within the coalition. Acknowledging that the well-being of the members has to be prioritized, the secretariat helps members manage their workloads and redistribute commitments, checks on them weekly, and provides them with the assistance they need. More than providing a house where the coalition operates, we have learned that creating a home for the coalition is equally important.

2. Agendas aren’t fixed; they move and evolve.

When Move As One started, it initially focused on a singular policy advocacy to contract PUVs and improving transport infrastructures with the national government. As the coalition expanded, it discovered new agendas that required attention. For example, the secretariat created another workstream that would look into quality and sustainable transport standards applicable to our context. The Coalition has opened up work streams in policy research and a volunteer training program called the Young Mobility Leaders Program. More agenda items pop up as members meet new organizations interested to take part in the movement. The new volunteers give fresh insights and opportunities on how the transport or mobility issue can be addressed, and this pushes the coalition to evolve. The backbone organization and Secretariat must be adaptive enough to encourage, enable, and systematically absorb the generative energy, without stretching itself too thin or lose focus.

3. Safe spaces are the “venue” in which coalitions work and grow.

Large coalition meetings, where all members from different sectors are present, may not be the appropriate venue for some to speak out and relay their concerns. We have learned to set individual or separate online meetings with sectors and agenda groups whose insights may not be properly expressed in larger settings, but are nonetheless valuable, and in fact may present the key ingredient in addressing complex issues. Creating safe spaces for smaller circles to convene for more candid conversations strengthen the buy-in of sectors to participate deeply in the coalition’s work. Scale, in this sense, does not mean breadth, but depth.

At its core, building coalitions is about building trust. The Coalition espouses an attitude of participation and empowerment where “members lead, coalition supports”. When we say an issue goes through our coalition’s political process and deliberation, we do not mean we bicker.

Move As One to us represents a good step forward about what politics and participation should be: Cyclists drafting cycling standards with the transportation department. Transport workers fighting for better contracts in Congress. Commuters advocating for a better budget to fix our broken transport system. We, the people, reclaiming the power granted to us by our Constitution. We, the people, moving as one.



WeSolve Foundation Inc.

change at scale happens when we work together we make ‘together’ work