The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is proposing to keep the current 50% capacity limit while enforcing stricter implementation of health and safety protocols in public transport within the National Capital Region (NCR) upon its return to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) starting August 6, 2021.
“Per Secretary [Arthur] Tugade, the recommendation of DOTr is to retain the current supply and capacity of public transportation,” said DOTr Assistant Secretary for Communication and Commuter Affairs Goddes Hope Libiran.
DOTr’s recommendation was made following President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s declaration to enforce stricter quarantine in NCR to mitigate the growing number of Covid-19 Delta variant cases. NCR’s shift to ECQ was initially recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Although the DOTr proposes to continue regular public transport operations, only Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) and workers of allowed industries may travel throughout the duration of the ECQ.
The ECQ in will officially commence on August 6 to August 20 in NCR, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal. The provinces and cities in Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, and Gingoog in Oriental Mindoro will also be under ECQ from August 1 to August 7.
Apart from the current protocols such as the use of face masks and face shields, and thorough disinfection of vehicles and terminals, drivers and operators are required to place markings that clearly indicate where passengers may sit to ensure compliance to the one-seat-apart rule.
Drivers and operators must also ensure that their QR codes or Special Permits are clearly displayed on their vehicles. Most importantly, all public utility vehicles (PUVs) such as buses, UV Express, jeepneys, shuttles, tricycles, taxis, and Transport Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) must not exceed the allowed 50% passenger capacity to ensure physical distancing.
For UV Express, taxis, and TNVS, passenger load should not exceed two passengers per row, except for the driver’s row where only one passenger is allowed. Tricycles, on the other hand, must not exceed one passenger in the side-car.
The public transport sector is strongly advised to adhere to DOTr’s 7 Commandments of Public Transport which include ensuring adequate ventilation within PUVs, regular disinfection of vehicles especially areas that are frequently touched by passengers and drivers alike, and strict checking of symptoms of all boarding passengers. The latter also includes the use of contactless payment systems and registration for contact tracing. In addition, face masks and face shields must be worn at all times. Talking, phone calls and eating are also strictly prohibited within PUVs.
Aside from public transportation, the DOTr also urges commuters to use Active Transport such as bicycles and other similar equipment.
Official guidelines on public transport under ECQ are set to be released by the DOTr in the coming days.
Photo Credit: InterAgency Council for Traffic – IACT