Public transport all set to resume ops once quarantine eases in NCR
MANILA, Philippines — Various public transport services in Metro Manila are ready to cater to commuters once quarantine eases in the country’s capital region.
During the online hearing of the House committee on transportation, officials from the air, land, and maritime transport sectors expressed readiness to resume their operations amid the possible move for Metro Manila to revert back to general community quarantine (GCQ).
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said authorized bus units for Metro Manila currently stands at 4,600.
However, of this number, only 3,662 have so far secured special permits while other units are still being checked by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for their compliance with the requirements.
LTFRB chief Martin Delgra likewise assured that more jeepneys will be available for commuters once Metro Manila reverts back to GCQ.
“On the issue of the PUJ, please be assured that when hopefully the restriction will ease up by August 19, there will be more PUJ that will be more PUJs that will be running on the streets of Metro Manila,” Delgra said.
According to Delgra, even when public transport was suspended upon the imposition of stricter quarantine protocols in Metro Manila, LTFRB continued its meetings on possibly adding more public utility vehicles on the road.
“Hindi lang PUJ, though we are focusing on PUJs because it has the most number of public utility vehicles, but also on the buses as well as the UV,” Delgra said.
“Please be assured that when we open, we will increase the number of PUJ routes,” he added.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Director General Jim Sydiongco said that while restrictions are being implemented on passengers, all airports in the country have remained operational.
“As we all are aware, all the airports in the Philippines have remained operational as well as airspace, as they form part of the interoperability of the airspace overhead and between domestic airports,” Sydiongco said.
“In other words, while Manila is under a higher level of quarantine, Visayas and Mindanao can fly their domestic flights. And if such is further downgraded, then NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) is open as well, so is Clark, and Mactan,” he added.
Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal said the agency is “very much ready” for the easing of quarantine measures and that they will abide by the restrictions being given by the regulatory bodies.
Further, the Civil Aviation Board (CAB) Director Carmelo Arcilla said that policies are being formed to “strike a balance between the interest of the airlines and the passengers.”
“Another hurdle would be passenger confidence and attitude because of the protocols and the restrictions,” Arcilla pointed out.
“But the CAB is ready, we are allowing Adhoc flights because the flights are not regular. We are liberalizing certain policies and we are receptive to contingencies. We are ready for the reopening,” he added.
As for the maritime sector, Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Jay Santiago said ports have also been operational even when Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine, although there was a decline in passengers in Metro Manila.
However, Santiago said that it’s “business as usual” in other ports, even while health protocols are being implemented.
“Our passenger traffic is below normal but it is continuous. We have already instituted the new health protocols being required by the Department of Health and the Department of Transportation, particularly on thermal scanning, on the use of face masks and face shields, as well as contact tracing and social distancing,” Santiago said.
“So our ports are in normal operations and we are ready in Manila North Harbor should Metro Manila be downgraded to general community quarantine,” he added.
In the railway sector, Philippine National Railways’ Ces Lauta said they are also ready to resume operations and took the temporary suspension as an opportunity to conduct maintenance works on their trains and tracks.
Health protocols such as the installation of thermal scanners have also been done in PNR stations.
“All our stations now have their thermal scanners already which are based on CCTV-based artificial intelligence. Ibig sabihin, makikita sa system kung sino ang mayroong elevated temperature, sa screen ng mga camera nakikita,” Lauta said.
Further, Lauta said that they have also requested the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to increase their passenger capacity to 32 percent from the current 27 percent.
Among its employees, Lauta said they are implementing a single-symptom protocol where personnel are asked to immediately subject themselves to quarantine even if there is only one symptom of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, LRTA spokesperson Hernando Cabrera said LRT-2 has been ready “from the very beginning,” as new means of buying tickets are being implemented to minimize any physical contact among its passengers and tellers.
“By the time na mag-open ulit tayo or mag-resume tayo ng operations by next week, ang ginagawa naman namin ngayon is nag-install kami ngayon ng e-loading machines. Electronic na ang paglo-load ng ating mga ticket,” Cabrera said.
“Instead of cash yung ating mga pasahero, they will be using yung kanilang mga bank facilities to load yung kanilang mga ticket, This is another measure para ma-avoid yung contact between yung teller at yung paggamit ng mga pera,” he added.
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