LTFRB urges PUV operators to avoid overcrowding

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Alexandria San Juan

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) urged public utility vehicle (PUV) operators to avoid overcrowding to prevent the spread of the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Commuters line up as they board a passenger jeepney during rush hour in Quezon City. A transport group appealed to authorities to raise the minimum jeepney fare to P12 amid the recent increases in the price of fuel. (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)
Commuters line up as they board a passenger jeepney during rush hour in Quezon City.(MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra III directed public utility vehicle (PUV) operators, especially buses, to strictly limit their passengers in connection with the social distancing measure, which is one of the precautionary strategies against the spread of COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH).

“We follow the protocol of the WHO, as well as the DOH as regards to taking any PUV for that reason (social distancing). I know, especially for buses, it’s quite crowded inside and we would like to address that by calling the attention of the operators,” Delgra said.

According to Delgra, cramming passengers inside public buses is prohibited but added that standing inside the vehicle is still allowed.

“Under our existing rules, standing is allowed to a certain extent but overcrowding is prohibited especially at this time of national emergency,” he explained.

Following confirmed cases of local COVID-19 transmission in the country, the WHO and the DOH have urged the public to distance themselves from other people, especially those who exhibit symptoms of the disease, by at least one meter as a precautionary measure.

While this measure is nearly impossible to observe in PUVs due to the country’s already congested public transportation system, Delgra reminded commuters to be vigilant and take precautions on their personal hygiene.

Delgra also urged the public to just stay home to avoid being exposed to the virus.

The LTFRB chief also assured that there are “more than enough” buses plying on roads to serve the riding public. Transport officials are currently discussing ways to manage the routes to cut travel time.

“As regards buses, to be very candid about it, the number of buses that pass through EDSA is supposed to be more than enough to address demand. We are now studying how to manage their routes,” Delgra said.

The transport regulatory body also added additional guidelines to its existing Memorandum Circular 2020-005 which implements health protocols for PUVs amid the COVID-19 scare.

Under the amended memorandum, the LTFRB directed PUV operators to properly sanitize their fleet before and after deployment to avoid community transmission of the disease.

PUV operators are also tasked to post a copy of COVID-19 hotline numbers on their vehicles, particularly the DOH hotline (02) 8-651-7800 loc. 1149-115.

The Board also ordered PUV operators to educate their drivers and conductors about symptoms of the COVID-19, and direct them to report possible infected passengers to the Department of Transportation, LTFRB, DOH, local government unit, and police station.

The LTFRB also asked the riding public, as well as operators, drivers, and conductors, to refrain from making undue remarks to avoid raising unnecessary fear or discrimination to others.

Failure to comply with the measures is considered a violation of their franchise’s terms and conditions, Delgra added.

“We are actually again making a firm appeal to the operators to comply with the memorandum consistent with the Presidential Proclamation. Deliberate failure on their part would be considered a violation of the terms and conditions of their franchise,” he explained.

President Duterte placed the country under a State of Public Health Emergency upon the recommendation of health officials following the confirmation of local transmission of the disease.

Under the declaration, all government agencies and local government units are enjoined to render full assistance and cooperation in the mobilization of necessary resources to contain the COVID-19 threat.