DOTr to implement reduced physical distancing in all public transport
A commuter carries her bike as she find place inside the Carousel bus in North Ave. in Quezon City as Government eases lockdown restriction to General Community Quarantine on August 19, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
DOTr to implement reduced physical distancing in all public transport
( - September 13, 2020 - 5:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Physical distancing between commuters inside public transportation will be reduced from 1-meter to .75 meter starting Monday as part of a move to "optimize" physical distance between commuters, the Department of Transportation said. 

In a statement issued Saturday night, the transportation department said that the decision was made to help in the opening and recovery of the economy as public utility vehicles are expected to accommodate more passengers with the enforcement of the new protocol.

The department added that it would still be requiring masks and face shields before allowing commuters on board, along with strictly implementing "no talking and answering calls" policies on public transportation amid the new shift.

The World Health Organization recommends maintaining a minimum of one metre apart from others amid the coronavirus-induced quarantines. 

With the protocol shift, the department said the public utility vehicles can serve more passengers, including: 

  • Public utility jeepneys will be able to increase their capacity from one to two passengers or 10-12%.
  • 2x2 buses can now service an additional 1-3 passengers, while a 3x2 type of bus, it can now serve up to 36 passengers from 24-25 
  • UV Express can serve an additional 1-2 passengers 
  • For the LRT-1: one (1) meter: 155 passengers; 0.75-meter: 204 passengers; 0.5-meter: 255 passengers; and 0.3-meter: 300 passengers.
  • For the LRT-2: one (1) meter: 160 passengers; 0.75-meter: 212 passengers; 0.5-meter: 274 passengers; and 0.3-meter: 502 passengers.
  • For the MRT-3: one (1)-meter: 153 passengers or a maximum capacity of 13%; 0.75-meter:  204 passengers or a maximum capacity of 17%; 0.5-meter: 255 passengers or a maximum capacity of 22%; and 0.3-meter: 327 passengers or a maximum capacity of 28%.
  • For the Philippine National Railways: one (1)-meter: 166 passengers; 0.75-meter: 184 passengers; 0.5-meter: 256 passengers; 0.3-meter: 320 passengers.

The department added that the reductions would be carried out gradually and "will be implemented in phases or after every two (2) weeks: from the present 1-meter distance which was enforced last 19 August 2020, it will be reduced to 0.75 meters (starting 14 September 2020), 0.5 meters (starting 28 September 2020), and 0.3 meters (starting 12 October 2020)."

The protocol is "subject to changes should there be any concern after the implementation," the statement reads. 

'Grievances on public transport woes' 

“In recent days, we have seen and heard the grievances of our people on the lack of public transportation, along with the call of the economic team to work together for the sectors to open up and revive the country's economy,” Transportation undersecretary for administrative service Artemio Tuazon, Jr. said in Filipino at a press briefing Saturday.

Tuazon added that the move comes as a result of a directive from transportation secretary Arthur Tugade "to study how to increase the capacity of our public transport without sacrificing the health and welfare of our people."

The department added in its statement that it would also allow the opening of 28 more traditional PUJ routes, with 1,159 authorized units to ply in Metro Manila starting Monday to complement the added capacity.

While the recent moves are heralded by the department as a solution to the longstanding transportation woes over the pandemic, though, transport group Piston maintains that the traditional jeepneys now allowed to ply their routes are still a small fraction of the estimated 74,000 traditional PUJs idled by the stoppage in public transportation, and whose drivers have been left jobless for over five months now. 

Over the pandemic, transport advocates have long been calling for service contracting and active transport infrastructure. 

Transportation undersecretary for railways Timothy John Batan said that apart from consultations with medical experts and simulation activities regarding transmission and exposure, the enforcement of reduced physical distancing on railways was based on the results of a survey of international practice on how railway operators and regulators are handling the coronavirus disease pandemic. 

“One of the things we have seen according to our current state of COVID-19 is that we are the only [country] left that enforces this 1-meter social distancing, especially inside the trains. Outside the train, the stations are still observing social distancing, but inside them, according to our study, it's only us still enforcing this,” Batan said in Filipino. — Franco Luna 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 23, 2020 - 11:07pm

Other regions and provinces in the Philippines considered moderate and low-risk areas will be placed under general community quarantine starting May 1. Bookmark this page for updates. (Main image by The STAR/Edd Gumban)

November 23, 2020 - 11:07pm

The Department of Health warns of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases during the upcoming holidays.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says the agency will form a contingency plan for this possible surge.

The DOH will emphasize to the public the need to observe minimum health standards during the holiday season to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

November 22, 2020 - 4:07pm

Another mass recovery of 10,957 coronavirus survivors along with 1,968 additional infections were reported by the health department Sunday, bringing the national caseload to 418,818. 

The numbers bring the tally to 386,486 total recoveries, good for a 92% recovery rate in the Philippines. 

In its latest case bulletin issued Sunday afternoon, the Department of Health also recorded 43 more casualties linked to the coronavirus, bringing the pathogen's death toll in the country to 8,123.  — Luna

November 20, 2020 - 10:52am

President Rodrigo Duterte has put Davao City under General Community Quarantine, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says.

The city will be under GCQ until November 30.

Metro Manila has been under GCQ since June.

November 18, 2020 - 8:48pm

With experts from OCTA Research Team labeling Baguio City as one of the COVID-19 “hotspots” of serious concerns, the Department of Tourism says it fully supports all the efforts of the LGU as it implements measures to ensure health and safety of the local visitors. 

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat says the DOT recognizes the able leadership of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong. 

"Baguio remains a premier destination especially for our domestic travelers and the Department will exert all efforts to ensure the slow but sure recovery of the industry and help bring livelihood back," Puyat says. — Rosette Adel

November 18, 2020 - 4:38pm

The Philippines' COVID-19 tally soars to 412,097 following the report of 1,383 additional cases on Wednesday.

The total number of recoveries also grows to 374,666 with 143 new recoveries while the national death toll now stands at 7,957 with 95 new fatalities recorded.

With these latest figures, total active cases in the country now amount to 29,474.

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