DOTr to require UV lights, plastic barriers in PUVs
An airconditioned bus offers free rides to commuters along Commonwealth Ave. on the second day of general community quarantine in Metro Manila.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
DOTr to require UV lights, plastic barriers in PUVs
Franco Luna ( - October 14, 2020 - 4:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — Commuters may now sit next to each other on public transport as long as plastic barriers are installed between them and UV lights are used for sanitation purposes, the transportation department said Wednesday.

Speaking in an interview aired over dzMM TeleRadyo, transportation spokesperson Goddes Libiran said that the Duterte Cabinet's decision to allow the one-seat apart rule will be implemented immediately provided the two precautions are observed in public utility vehicles. 

"This is effective immediately to increase the current capacity of our public utility vehicles," she said, adding that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board will be issuing a clarificatory memorandum circular explaining the rule in detail.

"There's also an option to allow passengers to sit next to each other as long as there's a plastic barrier next to them or they use a UV light for disinfection."

This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet decided Tuesday to approve the recommendations proposed by the economic development cluster to aid in economic recovery, which also included the use of service contracting to expand bus and jeep capacity, the expansion of rail capacity to 30 to 50%, and the expansion of provincial buses, motorcycle taxis, shuttles and transport network vehicle services.

In a separate statement sent to reporters, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said he ordered Wednesday the immediate implementation of the other initiatives recommended by the cluster along with the "one seat apart" rule on public transportation. 

Tugade said that while the department is in support of their return, motorcycle taxi services like Angkas will first need to secure approval by means of a Congress resolution calling for another pilot study before they can ply the roads once more.

"The DOTr recognizes the role of motorcycle taxis in transporting our commuters to their destinations. This is a substantial help now that public transportation is limited,” Tugade said in a mix of Filipino and English.

"This is precisely why, as long as there is a Congress Resolution, which will be our legal basis to allow the operation of MC Taxis, we will fully support this. We will abide by the directive of Congress and the IATF on the health and safety protocols," he added. 

When the department opted to decrease the set requirement for one-meter social distancing earlier, experts and passengers alike expressed worry that this could make commuters more susceptible to coronavirus transmission. 

This sentiment was shared by Professor Guido David, a member of the UP OCTA Research Group, who warned in a separate interview with ANC's Headstart that the new policy could also lead to overcrowding on public transport.

"If we reduce this further and it leads to people sitting next to each other later on, that could be a problem because we’ll now have overcrowding in public transport and we’ll know for a fact that overcrowding can lead to increased transmission of the virus," he said.

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