By Alexandria San Juan
As passenger volume begins to build up in major transport hubs on Holy Wednesday, transportation agencies continue to inspect terminals to assure safe and comfortable trips of passengers traveling for the Holy Week break.
Passengers begin to troop to the Araneta Bus Station in Quezon City, April 5, 2019, as they make the most of the long weekend to go to their provinces to observe the coming Holy Week. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
With the start of the Holy Week exodus, attached agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) conduct a series of inspections among bus terminals, airports, and sea ports under its "Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2019."
The DOTr earlier launched the program to ensure sufficient trips for the expected influx of passengers traveling this Lent, as well as to check the road worthiness of all public utility vehicles (PUVs) and readiness of PUV drivers.
For the part of the road sector, Land Transportation Office (LTO) assistant secretary Edgar Galvante said the agency with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the DOTr are inspecting bus terminals in Metro Manila to check the preparedness of the drivers, as well as the units to be used.
According to Galvante, buses were visually inspected and brakes and tires were being checked to make sure that it is safe to transport passengers in hours-long travels.
Galvante bared that there were bus tires found to be worn-out which were immediately ordered to be replaced before they were allowed to hit the road.
Aside from checking the conditions of the buses, LTO personnel also conducted physical tests for the drivers such as alcohol breath test and random drug testing.
"Yung mga ganito, iniiwasan natin ang mga pangyayari na hindi kanais-nais dahil kung ang driver nga ay under influence ng illegal drugs o alcohol, maaring ma-impair ang kanyang capacity to drive and could lead to road accident," Galvante said.
To cater the expected influx of passengers, LTFRB earlier approved special permits covering more than a thousand bus units to travel outside their routes this Holy Week exodus.
In an interview on Tuesday, LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said they approved a total of 1,103 bus units out of the almost 500 special permit applications they received covering about 1,161 units.
"There were actually close to 500 applications that we received covering 1,161 . Out of these, we were able to approve special permits covering 1,103," he explained.
"The principal reason why we declined or denied the applications for the remainder of the units kasi mayroon tayong 25 percent ceiling sa mga units along any route for that matter nung binigyan sila ng franchise," Delgra added.
These units will be allowed to travel outside their original routes to augment buses going to North Luzon, South Luzon, Bicol, Visayas, and Mindanao from April 14 to 22.