By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
A group of UV Express operators and drivers assured its preparedness under the “new normal” upon resumption of its operations on Monday along with other modes of mass transit for the second phase of public transport revival under the general community quarantine (GCQ).
“Handang-handa na, gigil na gigil na po ang mga UV Express na magbalik-pasada. Kami po ay nakahanda na pati ang mga protocol namin para maging ligtas ang mga pasahero magmula sa terminal hanggang sa biyahe (We are very ready, we are excited to go back on the road. Our safety and health protocols for our passengers are all set starting from our terminals),” Rosalino Marable, president of the Coalition of Operators and Drivers of UV Express Atbp. (CODEX) said on Saturday.
According to Marable, thermal scanners will be greeting passengers at their terminals, while alcohol or hand sanitizers, as well as markers to ensure that physical distancing is being observed, are also in place.
Marable added that they will also be keeping records of passengers, as ordered by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for contact tracing purposes.
All modes of public transportation are only authorized to operate with limited passenger capacity to curb the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through lesser physical contact.
For UV Express units, Marable said they are only allowed to ferry a maximum of nine passengers, which they vowed to follow.
“Okay lang ‘yun, sabi nga nila, beggars cannot be choosers. While we agree with that, very little na lang matitira sa ating drivers (That’s okay. As they say, beggars cannot be choosers. While we agree with that, there will be very little left for our drivers),” he said.
With the expected low income due to reduced passenger capacity and increasing prices of petroleum and spare parts, Marable said that his group will pursue filing a petition for a P2 per kilometer fare increase.
“Iyon sana ang aming dinadalangin two years ago pa. Last time na kami ay binigyan ng (That was our prayer two years ago. The last time that we were given a) P2 per kilometer increase was in 2006. That was 14 years ago and prices of a lot of things have increased tremendously,” the coalition leader pointed out.
“Prices of gasoline, diesel, and spare parts went up and the rent in commercial centers for our terminals doubled already. We find it very justifiable for us to file a petition for a fare hike and we will still pursue that,” he added.
Aside from UV Express, other modes of public transportation such as buses and modernized jeepneys are scheduled to return on the road on Monday, June 22.
Trains, bus augmentation, taxis, transport network vehicle services, shuttle services, P2P buses, and bicycles have been allowed earlier by the Department of Transportation on the first phase from June 1 to 21.
All types of public transport have been suspended by the government during the more than two months of hard lockdown which began mid-March and continued until end of May.