'Don't expect 100%': Transportation under GCQ will be 'limited, gradual, calculated'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Commercial domestic flights will be allowed between areas under General Community Quarantine with the transportation department expanding operations in international aviation gateways to include Clark, Cebu and Davao, its secretary said Thursday night. 

Speaking at a televised public address, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said: "While the mandate of the DOTr is to provide transportation, mobility and convenience, it is now also vested with the responsibility to help in preventing the spread of the coronavirus...Our approach will be partial, gradual, calculated, and by phases."

Tugade added that the three new airport gateways would each be equipped with testing laboratories for arriving passengers.

Though admitting that there would only be an average capacity of 12% on the Light Rail Transit and Metro Rail Transit, Tugade said that the department would be implementing a bus augmentation system of 300 to 500 buses plying a dedicated lane on Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue to make up for limited train capacities.

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"If we transition from [Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine] to GCQ, on the first day, we can put into operation our trains and rails. Simulations have begun, seating and queueing have been marked. Don't expect that train operation will be 100%. We have to balance our mandate to curb the spread of the virus. Therefore, the capacity will also be limited, gradual, and calculated," he added. 

The buses and MRT will follow the same line to decrease the volume of passengers, while the ten LRT stations would also see a bus route of their own, he said. 

Tugade also said that the department is working with the Metro Manila Development Authority on how to put up bicycle lanes. He said these would not be limited to EDSA, but parts of the country "if it works."

Tugade also added that rehabilitation of the MRT, which has grown decrepit over the years, would be finished by September, saying: "The average headway will be decreased and travel time by December will be 60 kilometers per hour."

Throughout the quarantine, transport planners and commuters have called attention to what they called a looming second wave caused by a neglected public transportation system that could also cost the country billions in the COVID-19 outbreak, saying that public transport as it stood would not be able to service the thousands of commuters expected to go to work. — Franco Luna




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