DOTr insists on increased PUV passenger capacity, identifies NCR as pilot area

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) would not blink in its recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transportation, road, and rail in Metro Manila to up to 100 percent amid concerns on the continuous threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In fact, DOTR Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor said they are ready to defend their recommendation in a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Thursday, Oct. 28.

The DOTr is pushing for Metro Manila as the pilot implementation area for its proposal to passenger capacity.

Pastor said they have already submitted their recommendation to the IATF, a top-level decision-making body on government response on the COVID-19, through a position paper.

“This is one of the measures being considered by the DOTr to help drivers and operators amid the pandemic and the continued increase of fuel prices. Pilot implementation will be in Metro Manila,” said Pastor.

“Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50% na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang Kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100% based on medical literature that is available. At the same time, we are ready to defend our position to IATF this Thursday. (The road sector has already submitted a formal position paper to increase the seatinv capacity from 50 percent to 100 percent but if the DOTr is to be asked, it cluld be increased to 100 percent based on medical literature that is available),” he added.

In pushing for increased passenger capacity, the DOTr cited several reasons that focused much on the need to continuously revive the country’s economy and the necessity to assist pubic utility drivers amid the upsurge in oil price.

“Metro Manila is the ideal place to test the proposal considering that 81.4 percent of its population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, public utility jeepneys and buses operating in Metro Manila are well-ventilated,” the DOTr said in a statement.

The department also argued that based on its rapid analysis of available data on seven-day average cases per one million population and public transport capacity, which covered 10 countries, it was found out that public transport capacity has no significant correlation with the number of COVID-19 cases .

The 10 countries are Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Australia, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

Pastor also emphasized that the oil price hike should not be a burden that passengers have to carry amid calls from the transport sector for fare hike.

Earlier this month, the DOTr requested the Department of Energy (DOE) to grant fuel subsidy to public transport drivers. The Department likewise welcomes the announcement of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for the release of P1 billion to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) as fuel subsidies.