DOTr: One-seat apart for PUVs

Published October 14, 2020, 11:14 AM

by Emmie V. Abadilla

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday ordered all transportation sectors to implement the “one-seat apart” rule, operationalize more public utility vehicle routes and units, and speed up service contracting for buses and jeepneys to accommodate more commuters.

This came after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) for economic recovery.

Hence, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade directed the agencies to adhere to the agency’s Operation Plan (OPLAN) AIR (Add routes/PUVs, Increase speed/capacity, Reduce travel time) to increase public transport capacity.

Tugade ordered the immediate adoption of the one-seat apart rule to increase the present capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs) and gradually increase capacity, or allow sitting together— provided that plastic barriers are placed in between passengers, or that UV lights are used.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will be issuing a clarificatory memorandum circular explaining in detail the “one-seat apart” rule and the use of measures to increase capacity while ensuring safety of passengers, such as the use of plastic barriers to separate passengers, or UV lights, inside PUVs.

In addition, the transport chief ordered the LTFRB to open up more public transport routes and authorize more roadworthy units, such as provincial and city buses, as well as public utility jeepneys.

He also ordered the agency to allow the operation of additional transport network vehicle services (TNVS), and taxis.

Under the current policy, there is no cap on the number of additional taxis and TNVS units to be deployed for as long as they are duly-accredited by the Transport Network Corporations (TNCs) for purposes of contact tracing, are authorized to operate (with appropriate CPC or P.A.) and are compliant with public health protocols.

As for the clamor to allow motorcycle taxis to ply the streets, Secretary Tugade reiterated that the DOTr will fully support the move, provided that a Congress Resolution is passed to serve as the DOTr’s legal basis for its implementation.

To add more transport service for employees and workers, Tugade ordered the LTFRB to speed-up the processes needed for the deployment and operation of shuttle services.

In August, the LTFRB issued a Memorandum Circular exempting shuttle services for transport workers from securing franchise or Certificate of Public Convenience (CPC).

This is for as long as the vehicles are secured by a Contract of Lease for a period of at least three months but not exceeding December 31, 2020, and the contract must at all times be readily available for presentation during on-road operations or as the Board deems necessary.
The vehicles must be used and driven by the lessee or authorized and must be currently registered and covered by a comprehensive passenger insurance policy.

They must bear the proper marking of the company being serviced, for identification.

PUV operators contracted by private companies for shuttle service may apply for special permits expedited through the online facility of LTFRB.

The permit is issued within the same day of the filing of application provided all requirements are submitted likewise online.

Meanwhile, to give transport operators and drivers a steady source of income while improving the commuters’ riding experience, Secretary Tugade ordered the LTFRB to accelerate the implementation of service contracting for buses and public utility jeepneys within this month.

Net Service Contracting payments will be calculated based on rates set for the distance and routes that drivers covering over a particular period.

In this scheme, government will pay drivers a subsidy that will cover the cost of service rendered per kilometer by their buses and jeepneys plying on specific routes, in accordance with a set of performance indicators.

Aside from PUVs, Secretary Tugade likewise ordered the Rail Sector to increase passenger capacity by 30 percent to 50 percent.

In the maritime sector and aviation sectors, the Secretary directed agencies to allow more Ro-Ro (roll on and roll off) ferries and more flights to cater to passengers.