More buses, e-jeepneys may be out by June 22
“The second phase (of operation) of modern PUVs (public utility vehicles) has been approved, and if they are not enough, the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) might allow traditional jeepneys, provided they are roadworthy,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.
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More buses, e-jeepneys may be out by June 22
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government has increased routes of passenger buses and allowed the resumption of operations of modern or “standardized” jeepneys in Metro Manila to enable commuters to return to work under the “new normal” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The second phase (of operation) of modern PUVs (public utility vehicles) has been approved, and if they are not enough, the LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) might allow traditional jeepneys, provided they are roadworthy,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said yesterday.

Since the National Capital Region remains under general community quarantine (GCQ), the government is implementing a strategy on the “calibrated, partial and phased” deployment of public transportation, Roque said. 

The hierarchy of transport modes puts the traditional jeepney last to be deployed in terms of category for all transportation. The priority are provincial buses, modern PUVs, jeepneys and tricycles. 

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health are also looking at a proposal to use protective health equipment to enable angkas (back riding) motorcycle operators to return to the streets.

Roque said the government has been working on the gradual increase of public transportation to ferry workers in Metro Manila.

On Thursday, three routes for city buses were opened at PITX-Sucat, PITX-Naic and PITX-Cavite City. 

Under the current GCQ, the government has opened 27 out of 31 bus routes in Metro Manila.

“For public transportation, there are 18,830 TNVS units, 16,701 taxis and 271 P2P (point-to-point) buses in operation under the 28 P2P routes. They are now plying Metro Manila,” Roque said, citing LTFRB data. 

To augment the lack of transportation, Roque said there are now 90 buses, which are part of the MRT 3 Bus Augmentation Program.

“Our LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3 and the Philippine National Railways trains are also now operating,” he said.

Roque said the deployment of provincial passenger buses, initially scheduled on June 22, is still up for discussion by the IATF.

The review includes the possible redeployment of public utility jeepneys to provide livelihood to displaced drivers who were forced to stop operations due to the lockdown.

“Although the LTFRB knows that while we do not have alternative livelihood and there is scarcity of modes in public transportation, we might  need to allow them (to operate) subject to health standards,” Roque said.

Stranded workers

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has provided a total of P2.696 million in financial assistance, sleeping and sanitation kits to 1,502 locally stranded individuals (LSIs).

Roque said 539 received financial assistance totalling P1.078 million while 963 were provided sleeping and sanitation kits.

Citing data culled by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, there are 45,565 LSIs as of June 17. Of the number, 34,571 have returned to their provinces.

There are no longer stranded individuals at the Villamor Air Base and stranded commuters underwent tests at the Villamor Golf Club before they left for their provinces, Roque said.

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