PUVs, trains on 'reduced capacity' for Metro Manila quarantine

PUVs, trains on 'reduced capacity' for Metro Manila quarantine
Passengers of a jeepney in Manila are seen wearing face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
Miguel De Guzman, Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Office will implement social distancing protocols that will drastically lower the number of passengers allowed in public utility vehicles during the month-long community quarantine of Metro Manila.

According to LTO chief Edgar Galvante at a press conference on Saturday afternoon, the measures will bring some discomfort to commuters but are meant to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Taxis, airport taxis, and Transportation Network Vehicle Service will have a maximum capacity of four passengers, including the driver and should sit a seat apart, he said. Mutliple bookings like GrabShare—Grab earlier this week announced it was suspending the booking option—are no longer allowed. 

The Department of Transportation is also suspending motorcycle taxi services for now.

UV Express vans will only be allowed to have six passengers, including the driver. The passengers will likewise have to sit a seat apart.

Public utility jeepneys will only be allowed no more than half of their total capacity, with commuters sitting a seat apart. The newer Class-2 and Class-3 "modern jeepneys" will seat no more than half of their seating capacity and passengers will not be allowed to stand along the aisle.

Public utility buses, which are often packed beyond capacity during rush hour, will be allowed no more than 25 passengers, which shall include the driver and the conductor. There will be no standing passengers allowed, LTO's Galvante said.

Provincial and inter-regional buses and shuttles will have to terminate their trips at entry points into the National Capital Region that the police will specify.

Buses and shuttles entering or leaving the capital must remind their passengers to be ready to present IDs that indicate their place of work as well IDs that show their home addresses.

Drivers and conductors of public utility vehicles are responsible for keeping an eye on their passengers and bringing them to the nearest hospital if they show COVID-19 symptoms like fever and severe coughing or difficulty in breathing.

Operators of transport terminals must also screen passengers who have temperatures of 38° Celsius or higher or have other potential COVID-19 symptoms.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board had previously required public utility drivers and conductors to wear face masks and for transport terminals to provide commuters hand sanitizers and alcohol.

'Reduced capacity' trains

The Light Rail Transit, Metro Rail Transit and Philippine National Railways will be operating at reduced capacity due to social distancing measures "to reduce the concentration of passengers per train," the Department of Transportation also said.

To implement one-meter social distancing, the capacities of the trains and station platforms will be reduced to 25%, with station personnel implementing measures for proper queuing.

"It is noted that the above 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," DOTr said, adding operating hours may be extended to accomodate queued passengers.

DOTr said the women's and senior citizen section of train cars "will be further separated", with a subsection created for senior citizens.

PNR has also suspended its Alabang to Calamba operations for the duration of the quarantine.  

The community quarantine on Metro Manila was announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday. The Palace issued a memorandum on the guidelines of what some have been calling a lockdown on Saturday morning.

The quarantine takes effect at midnight on Sunday, March 15. It will be in place until April 14. — Jonathan de Santos

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