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Limit passenger loads, DOTR tells PUVs

/ 04:30 AM March 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday ordered all public utility vehicle (PUV) operators to strictly limit their passenger capacities and implement 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,” Transportation Undersecretary Artemio Tuazon said in announcing new rules that would implement the government’s social distancing policy against the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19)He told reporters at a briefing that the Philippine National Police will be in charge of implementing the guidelines.

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Limited loads defined

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.

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Passenger capacity for public utility jeepneys (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 wants 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 at entry points 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.

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Michael Capati, operations director of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, said trains will be loaded at a reduced 25 percent capacity.

Passenger concentration in station platforms, concourse and elevators shall also be reduced in all rails, specifically the MRT 3, Light Rail Transit 1 and 2 and the Philippine National Rail (PNR).

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.

Sorry for the inconvenience

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 containment 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 [the] 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.

Air transportation

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, the CAAP said it was 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 Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International airport and to Sangley airport will be allowed, subject to Department of Health and PNP protocols.

Meanwhile, Tuazon said people who have reason to be in Metro Manila during the quarantine period will be allowed entry, so long as they present identification.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: COVID-19, limited passenger loads, novel coronavirus, one-seat apart policy, social distancing
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