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: September 18, 2020 - 12:35pm

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)

September 18, 2020 - 12:35pm

All private and public cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium will be closed from October 29 to November 4, as decided upon by the inter-agency task force on COVID-19.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also announces that the IATF has approved maximum of 30% of venue capacity in cemeteries, memorial parks and columbarium from September 17 to November 15.

September 17, 2020 - 12:04pm

The one-meter rule in public transportation will remain until President Rodrigo Duterte decides on the matter, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says.

Roque, also spokesperson of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19, said Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade manifested this in their meeting.

September 15, 2020 - 11:58am

About 57% of Filipinos fear "the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is yet to come", according to a Social Weather Stations survey released Tuesday.

The same poll shows that 35% of Filipinos said "the worst is behind us."

The probability-based survey survey was conducted from July 2 to 6 using mobile phone and computer-assisted telephone interviewing among a nationally-representative sample of 1,555 working-age Filipinos nationwide.

September 14, 2020 - 12:08pm

Former Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle may have picked up COVID-19 at the airport or in the airplane, according to CBCP acting president Pablo Virgilio David.

Tagle tested negative for the coronavirus in Rome last September 7 and was allowed to make the trip home. He tested positive on September 11 upon arriving in Manila.

"Cardinal Chito came home also to visit his elderly parents in Imus, Cavite. Now he is prevented from doing so because he has to stay in isolation in the next 14 days. Fortunately, he is asymptomatic," David says.

September 14, 2020 - 9:08am

The Department of Health urges the public to use transport options that can afford at least 1-meter distancing, as the Department of Transportation eases restrictions in public transport.

The DOH enjoins all Filipinos to be extra vigilant in situations where distancing cannot be practiced.

"Further, we ask all Filipinos to continue to practice all elements of BIDA—wearing of masks and face shields, handwashing and physical distancing. Based on evidence, the level of protection increases when the practices are combined," the DOH says.

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