Operators of provincial buses and terminals are all geared up as thousands of passengers are expected to travel from nearby provinces to the capital region beginning Wednesday.
Safety and health protocols are also in place, operators said, after transport regulators approved to open 12 modified routes for provincial buses to service more workers as the economy gradually reopens under a more relaxed community quarantine.
"Matagal na po tayong naghanda at ready na po ang PITX (Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange) sa pagtanggap ng mga kababayan natin na manggagaling sa mga karatig probinsya," PITX corporate affairs head Jason Salvador said in an interview. (We have been preparing for a long time for this and PITX is ready to receive passengers from nearby provinces.)
According to Salvador, they are expecting at least 5,000 to 10,000 commuters to flock to the PITX beginning September 30, as the terminal will serve an estimated 300 to 500 provincial buses going to and from CALABARZON.
Eleven out of the provincial bus routes approved to be opened by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) are in Region 4A, particularly in parts of Batangas, Cavite, and Laguna.
Salvador told passengers that safety and health protocols will be strictly observed in the terminal and before boarding the unit such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and face shields, required disinfection through footbath and sanitizers, temperature check, and enforcement of physical distancing.
He added that public utility buses going in and out of PITX will also be regularly disinfected for the additional safety of passengers.
"Kami ay humihingi ng dagdag na pasensya at pang-unawa sa mga pasahero dahil mayroong mga protocol na kailangang sundin para sa kaligtasan ng lahat," Salvador said.
(We ask for more patience and understanding from passengers because there are protocols that need to be followed for everyone's safety.)
Provincial Bus Operators Association of the Philippines (PBOAP) Executive Director Alex Yague reminded passengers to bring documents required by the LTFRB before traveling to avoid inconvenience.
Under Memorandum Circular 2020-051 earlier released by the LTFRB, passengers are required to bring travel passes issued by the Philippine National Police (PNP) from their place of origin, a valid identification card, and other documents to be required by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the local government unit concerned.
Passengers should also bring a written consent that they agree to undergo COVID-19 testing or quarantine at the terminal or end-point destination in case the LGU requires it.
Yague said operators will monitor the resumption of provincial bus operations to ensure that only Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APOR) will be allowed to board the units.
A no-talking policy will also be enforced inside buses on top of other health and safety guidelines set by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and IATF to further reduce the droplets expelled to curb the transmission of the virus, he added.
Based on the LTFRB's circular, the following modified routes will be opened for provincial buses starting September 30:
- San Fernando, Pampanga - Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City
- Batangas City, Batangas - Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX)
- Lemery, Batangas - PITX
- Lipa City, Batangas - PITX
- Nasugbu, Batangas - PITX
- Indang, Cavite - PITX
- Mendez, Cavite - PITX
- Tagaytay City, Cavite - PITX
- Ternate, Cavite - PITX
- Calamba City, Laguna - PITX
- Siniloan, Laguna - PITX
- Sta. Cruz, Laguna - PITX
The LTFRB had earlier said that discussions are still ongoing between the agency and local officials as many are still opposed to the idea of opening their borders to buses to and from Metro Manila which is currently the epicenter of the pandemic in the country.