Sun. Jul 25th, 2021

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is eyeing the integration of an online digital contact tracing platform into the country’s public transportation as a means to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In an online town hall meeting with other government officials and youth leaders on Thursday, DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said that while contact tracing for public transportation in the aviation and maritime sectors are easier due to existing processes on the recording of passenger information, the difficulty lies in the road sector.

To ensure that the information of passengers of public utility vehicles (PUV) in road transport is properly recorded and in a more convenient manner, she said the DOTr is set to meet with private organizations that could provide an online contact tracing platform.

“Mamaya kakausapin namin mga contact tracing companies like StaySafe.ph. Para hindi na mano-mano ang contact tracing, digital na (Later we will have a discussion with contact tracing companies like StaySafe.ph for digital means of contact tracing),” Libiran said.

According to its website, StaySafe.ph is a “community-driven contact tracing, health condition reporting, and social distancing system” and has an application that is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Currently, drivers and conductors of public utility buses (PUB) will be required to provide every passenger with a passenger contact form to facilitate contact tracing, as stated under Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) memorandum circular 2020-019 released early this week.

“[The form] must be filled up by the passenger and submitted prior to alighting the bus. Each bus must be provided with a dropbox for this purpose,” the memorandum read.

The memorandum, which sets the guidelines for the operation of PUBs in Metro Manila once the metropolis is eased into a general community quarantine, also advised passengers to take note of the plate number or body number of PUBs they boarded the date and time they boarded, and the route.

“Operators/Drivers shall display this reminder with the plate number of the vehicle prominently visible by all passengers,” the memorandum read.

Buses and modern jeeps preferred

During the town hall meeting, Libiran said PUBs and modern jeepneys would be given preference in the resumption of operation of PUVs, over traditional jeepneys and other means of public transportation because of their higher passenger capacity and existing contactless fare collection system.

However, she said the LTFRB would allow the operation of traditional jeepneys and other smaller PUVs in areas without enough PUBs or modern jeepneys subject to physical distancing and other guidelines set by the government regulators.

Earlier, the DOTr announced that AF Payments Inc., a private company offering automatic fare collection system services, has decided to waive its maintenance and processing fees for PUVs, which previously amounted to 4-6 percent of daily gross revenues.

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said cashless or contactless transactions, apart from reducing the possible transmission of Covid-19, would be to the advantage of PUV operators since it reduces “pilferage and other losses.” (ia/PNA)

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