MANILA – There will be no public utility buses (PUB) plying city or provincial routes yet in the first phase of the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila as part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) dual-phase reopening of public transportation in the region.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the DOTr said that from June 1 to 21 — phase one of the GCQ in Metro Manila — only trains, bus augmentation, taxis, transport network vehicle services (TNVS), shuttle services, and point-to-point buses will be allowed to operate with “limited passenger capacity.”
“Tricycles will also be allowed, subject to the prior approval of the concerned LGU (local government unit),” the DOTr said.
DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, in his presentation to President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet on Thursday, both the Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1) and line 2 (LRT-2), and the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) will be limited to 10 to 12 percent of its total passenger capacity once they resume operation, while the Philippine National Railway (PNR) will be limited to 20 to 30 percent.
To ease the effects of the limited passenger capacity of the rail services, he said a bus augmentation system will run along the rail routes to transport more passengers.
“Ikakasa namin ‘yung operation ng tren with bus operation following the same line. Para sa ganoon, ma-achieve natin more or less the same volume of passengers (We will consolidate trains and buses to run in the same line. This would allow us to transport about the same volume of passengers),” Tugade said.
For the second phase of the GCQ in Metro Manila — from June 22 to 30 — the DOTr said PUBs, modern public utility vehicles (PUV), and UV Express will be allowed to operate subject to the government’s guidelines such as limited passenger capacity, physical distancing, contact tracing, and contactless payments.
However, DOTr Undersecretary Goddes Hope Libiran said only city buses have been approved to operate in the second phase, with no decision yet on the resumption of operations for provincial buses.
Meanwhile, the resumption of service of traditional jeepneys, she said, would depend on whether PUBs and other larger public transportation modes would be unable to cope with the demand on public transportation.
“Kung magkulang ang bilang ng buses and modern PUVs, that’s the time they will be allowed to operate. Ang priority eh yung nasa taas ng hierarchy — trains, buses, modern PUVs (If available buses and modern PUVs are not enough, then that’s when we’ll allow traditional jeepneys. The priority are those at the top of the hierarchy—trains, buses, modern PUVs),” Libiran said.
For passengers in Metro Manila’s “new normal,” the DOTr said stringent sanitary and health measures will be enforced to control the possible spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
These measures include wearing of face masks at all times, implementation of no contact measures such as cashless payments, use of thermal scanners, availability of alcohol and sanitizers in PUVs, regular disinfection of PUV surfaces, the establishment of disinfection facilities in various public transport terminals, and contact tracing.
For PUV drivers and operators, the DOTr said it would also “vigorously pursue and promote” online transactions in licensing, registration, and other documentary requirements.
One of these initiatives is the Public Transport Online Processing System of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board which is set to begin its operation on June 1.
It said that the system allows for almost all transactions with the LTFRB to be completed online, except for publication and hearing of cases. (PNA)