By Alexandria Denise San Juan
Public utility buses will be prioritized for deployment in areas placed under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) as lesser demand for public transport is seen upon the resumption of its operations, a transport official said on Tuesday.
“Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na hierarchy of public transport. Alam naman po natin na ‘yung mga pampublikong sasakyan na papayagan bumiyahe will be at reduced capacity, so, titingnan natin ‘yung mga modes na mas malaki or mas marami ang kapasidad,” Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III said. (We have a so-called hierarchy of public transport. While those PUVs who will be allowed to travel will be at reduced capacity, we are looking at modes that have larger or have more passenger capacity.)
As all modes of public transportation were directed to operate only at 50 percent of their capacity, the agency will give priority to public utility vehicles like buses that can ferry more passengers.
“Uunahin po natin ang mga bus bago natin ibaba sa mga modern jeepneys, at ang susunod kung kukulangin pa rin ay yung mga traditional or regular jeepneys kasama na rin ‘yung mga van,” he added. (We will prioritize the buses first, then modern jeepneys, and next if it is still not enough, we will deploy the traditional or regular jeepneys including the vans.)
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) had earlier issued guidelines following the directive of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease on the resumption of PUVs in areas under GCQ.
These include the reduction of passenger load inside PUVs to 50 percent of its capacity to follow the physical distancing protocol, mandatory disinfection of all PUVs after every round trip, and a “no face mask, no travel” policy to be imposed on both drivers and passengers to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Despite the shift from enhanced community quarantine to GCQ in various areas around the country, Delgra noted that the demand for public transport “will be lower than before” as not all people are allowed to leave their homes.
“Hindi lahat ng mga dating mananakay ay makakalabas ng bahay at bibiyahe. Mayroon pa ring mga tao na prohibited or are not allowed to go out of their homes, or kahit pwede lumabas, limitado naman yung mga activity,” Delgra said. (Not all who used to ride PUVs will be allowed to leave their houses. There are still people who are prohibited or are not allowed to go out of their homes or even if they will be allowed, their activities are limited)
In the GCQ guidelines earlier issued by Malacañang, persons 20 years and below and 60 years old and above, as well as those with health risk factors, are not allowed to go out of their homes.
The LTFRB chief reminded operators and drivers that special permits will be issued to PUVs who will be allowed to travel and service passengers during GCQ.
Delgra said that apart from a certificate of public convenience, the agency will also ensure that PUVs are strictly following the health safety protocols of the DOTr and the IATF before securing the permit.
To further follow social distancing protocols and lessen physical interaction, Delgra said the application for special permits, as well as its issuance will be done online.