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Further reopening of public transport eyed

MANILA, Philippines — The government is expected to further reopen the public transportation sector in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Saturday.

Roque said the Cabinet was set to meet on Monday to discuss quarantine restrictions, including those on public utility vehicles.

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“I think it’s safe to say that the transportation sector would be further reopened,” Roque said in a radio interview.

He noted that in areas under GCQ, 50 percent of businesses are allowed to operate.

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But the public transportation available is only 30 percent, he said.

“So we really need to give an additional 20-percent transport so that half of the workers could report to their jobs,” he said.

Motorcycle taxis

He said that aside from reviewing the 1-meter-distance rule between passengers, the government is studying allowing the resumption of motorcycle taxis.

In a resolution on Oct. 5, the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) endorsed the request of Metro Manila mayors for the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to resume its pilot study of motorcycle taxis, pending the approval of pertinent legislation.

Motorcycle taxis are not allowed in the country unless there is a new law classifying them as public transportation.

They were permitted to operate in the months prior to the pandemic lockdown while the government studied their safety and viability as a form of public transportation.

Transportation officials said they saw no issue with the possible resumption of operations of motorcycle taxis, as it could greatly help commuters who faced limitations in public transportation due to the pandemic.

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“As part of the IATF, the DOTr, under Secretary [Arthur] Tugade, recognizes how motorcycle taxis can help transport our countrymen to their destination, especially now that public transportation is operating at a reduced capacity,” Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said in a television interview on Friday.

Libiran said Tugade “has no problem” with motorcycle taxis returning to the streets, “as long as there is an appropriate Congress resolution” for the conduct of the pilot study and that drivers and passengers will comply with health and safety guidelines set by the government.

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TAGS: Department of Transportation (DOTr), general community quarantine, Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), physical distancing, Public Transport
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