Gov’t urged to allow more PUVs to avert COVID-19 surge | Inquirer News

Gov’t urged to allow more PUVs to avert COVID-19 surge

No need for quarantine pass in NCR under MECQ - MMC

(Niño Jesus Orbeta/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to allow more traditional buses and jeepneys to ply Metro Manila and provincial routes to lessen the risk of public transport vehicles becoming superspreaders of COVID-19.

She urged the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to heed the recommendations of its consultants about allowing more public transport units on the roads.


“The crammed public transport vehicles are COVID-19 superspreaders. It is about time that the DOTr allows traditional buses and jeepneys to open new routes, to cater to more commuters,” she said.


“It is good news that we see a decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, but we should not be complacent. We must make sure about the availability of public utility jeepneys, buses and vans to ensure that these remain safe, not packed and allows for physical distancing to be observed to prevent the spread of the virus,” she said.

But Hontiveros was quick to clarify that allowing traditional jeepneys should be done on a provisional basis, so as not to derail the implementation of the government’s public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

“Let us maintain the strict implementation of health protocols, especially that we still do not have any clear program on the administration of booster shots,” she said.

Hontiveros also reiterated her call for the DOTr to expand its service contracting program to address the plight of both drivers and commuters amid price hikes in petroleum products.

Meanwhile, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Benhur Abalos on Monday said minors and senior citizens were now allowed to take public transport as Metro Manila shifts to laxer restrictions.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Abalos sought to clarify a “misunderstanding” between the DOTr and its enforcement arm, the Interagency Council for Traffic (i-ACT), which earlier announced that minors and elderly were still not allowed to ride jeepneys, buses and tricycles.


“The official policy as far as the interagency task force is concerned is that [everyone], including children and elderly, could now go out,” Abalos said. “There was only a miscommunication in enforcement.”

On Saturday, Manuel Gonzales, i-ACT chief, said children and the elderly were still not allowed to take public transport even though Metro Manila is now on alert level 2.

Under this category, buses, trains and jeeps can now serve up to 70 percent of their passenger capacities while curfew hours in the metropolis have been lifted.

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Abalos said he had already clarified the issue with Transport Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor and assured PUVs that “they would not be in violation of any laws.” INQ


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