By Genalyn Kabiling
Motorcycle taxis are not yet allowed to resume operations in general community quarantine (GCQ) places as a precaution against the coronavirus spread, a Palace official clarified Friday.
Even as the government has allowed public transportation to operate at reduced capacity in GCQ areas, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said implementing physical distancing in motorcycle ride-hailing services is “impossible.”
“‘Yung mga Angkas? Imposible ang social distancing sa Angkas dahil magkatabi kayo. Ang pupuwede lang ‘yung puwede social distancing at ang requirement ay one-meter social distancing sa mga pampublikong sasakyan (It is impossible to enforce social distancing in Angkas because you’re seated beside each other. Only allowed are those that can observe social distancing. The requirement is one-meter social distancing in public transportation),” he said over government television Friday.
Jeepney operations are likewise temporarily prohibited to operate in GCQ places due to the difficulty in enforcing the distancing rule, according to Roque.
“Yung mga hindi puwede one meter ang jeepney dahil harapan yan hindi pa rin puwede sa GCQ (We can’t enforce one-meter distancing in jeepneys because of the parallel-facing seats. They are not allowed during GCQ),” he said.
Buses and taxis, on the other hand, are among the public utility vehicles allowed to operate in GCQ areas at reduced capacity and subject to certain health protocols.
“Sa GCQ puwede ang taxi pero limitado ang pasehero (Taxis are allowed to operate during GCQ but with limited passengers),” he said.
Asked about the possible adjustment of transport fare prices, Roque said he would clarify the matter with transportation authorities.
“Naiintindihan natin ang predicament ng ating mga transport operators pero ang dilemma din ay paano natin bubuksan ang economiya kung wala naman masasakyan papunta ng trabaho ang atin mga mamamayan (We understand the predicament of our transport operators but the dilemma is how to open the economy if people don’t have transportation going to work),”
“Pero kokonsulta ko ‘yan sa LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) dahil alam ko naman bago sila magpataw ng mataas na pamasahe kinakailangan may otoridad galing sa kanila (But I will consult with the LTFRB because I know before they can increase fares, they must get authority from the agency),” he said.
Starting May 1, the government has implemented a less restrictive general community quarantine in areas with moderate and low risk of coronavirus spread.
Road, rail, maritime, and aviation sectors of public transportation are now allowed to operate at a reduced capacity in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation. A strict one-meter distance between passengers shall be observed and appropriate engineering controls in place in public transportation.
Under the DOTr guidelines, there will be mandatory use of face masks and gloves for drivers. Disinfecting practices of vehicles, terminals, and among passengers are also required to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The transportation department has also recommended the use of an automatic fare collection system to limit the contract inside PUVs.