DOTr to implement one-seat-apart social distancing in all public transpo
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday issued guidelines that call for strict social distancing in all means of public transportation.
In a press conference, DOTr Undersecretary for administrative services Artemio Tuazon said the Department will impose a passenger capacity limit and a one-seat-apart policy.
“If they do not comply we will make requests that they do. But if they still refuse, they will be arrested,” Tuazon said, adding that the Philippine National Police will be in charge of implementing said guidelines.
Edgar Galvante, Assistant Secretary of the Land Transportation Office said that for taxis, airport taxis and transportation network vehicle services (TNVS) such as Grab, the maximum number of passengers is four per vehicle, including the driver.
Meanwhile, for UV express, there should be no more than six passengers, including the driver, sitting one seat apart.
Passenger capacity for Public utility jeeps (PUJ) and public utility buses (PUB) will also be limited.
Under the guidelines, PUJs will only be allowed to transport half of their seating capacity, while PUBs will be limited to 25 passengers, including the driver and conductor.
Galvante added that for both PUJs and PUBs, no standing passengers will be allowed, and passengers are also required to sit one seat apart.
The DOTr also want to limit the use of ride sharing apps.
“Multiple books for a single trip provided by TNVS and the pilot implementation of Motorcycle Taxi shall be suspended/prohibited,” the guidelines said.
Meanwhile, provincial buses and inter-regional jeepneys and UV express which enter Metro Manila as part of their normal route shall be terminated on entry points as identified by the PNP. Passengers entering Metro Manila will then have to transfer to transportation within the boundaries of the community quarantine.
Similar guidelines were issued for rail transport.
Michael Capati, Director for Operations of the Metro rail Transit 3 said trains will be loaded at a reduced 25% capacity.
Passenger concentration in station platforms, concourse and elevators shall also be reduced in all rails, specifically the MRT3, Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 and the Philippine National Rail.
The women’s and senior citizens’ carriage will also be further segregated, with a separate space for senior citizens only, as they are more vulnerable to Covid 19.
The Department admitted said procedures will result in inconveniences, but Tuazon pleaded for understanding, saying their priority at the moment is not the comfort of the passengers, but rather the stop of the spread of the virus.
“[We note] that the [these] measures will lower our railway lines’ capacity and result in longer queues. We appeal to our passengers’ understanding as these public health measures are implemented to manage to current public health emergency,” the DOTr said.
While rail operations within Metro Manila will remain uninterrupted, Galvante said the PNR operations from Alabang to Calamba and vice versa will be suspended temporarily.
Meanwhile, all domestic flights will cease operations except for cargo flights, air ambulance and transport of medical supplies, government and military flights, weather mitigation flights and maintenance and utility flights.
“General aviation flights within the community quarantine area during the period will be diverted to Sangley Airport and Clark Airport,” Donald Mendoza, Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said.
Mendoza also announced that Sangley Airport is operational already, though it can only handle turboprop planes.
For international flights on the other hand, CAAP said it is coordinating with airlines to arrange special airport-to-airport trips.
“Passengers may also opt to terminate flights in Manila and arrange their own transport within Manila,” Mendoza said, adding that the point to point buses from the Ninoy Aquino Internatipnal Airport to Clark International and to Sangley Airport will be allowed, subject to Department of Health and PNP protocols.
Meanwhile, Tuazon assured the public that if they have legitimate reason to be in Metro Manila during the quarantine period, they will be allowed entry, so long as they present identification that shows the address of their place of work, as well as identification that includes their home address.
“For those who may not have IDs, a certification from your employer will be enough. We will also accept Barangay certificate that lists your home address,” Tuazon said, when asked about blue collar workers who may not have a formal ID.
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