Experts see surge in COVID-19 cases if passenger capacity is raised to 75%

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2021   •   291

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is ready to implement the 75% passenger capacity in public transportation once the entire Philippines is  placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

This means more passengers will be allowed inside a public utility vehicle with reduced physical distancing.

In a statement, the DOTr said that although it recognizes the recommendation of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), they will still depend on the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

“We leave the NEDA proposal to the evaluation of the IATF being the primary agency tasked to formulate plans and rules during this period of the pandemic as the country moves forward towards the “new normal”,” the DOTr said.

“Rest assured that the DOTr will implement whatever decision the IATF and the Cabinet may arrive at,” it added.

Meanwhile, experts from the UP OCTA research said that while they respect the policies the government is imposing, they fear the possible surge of COVID-19 cases once passenger capacity is increased in public transportations.

The group is currently monitoring the detected clustering of COVID-19 cases in MRT-3 which involves the new variant discovered in the United Kingdom.

What they suggest is that instead of increasing passenger capacity, it is better to increase the number of PUV units and retain the standard physical distance in between passengers.

“With the UK Variant it’s even more risky because the UK variant is more transmissible, so kumbaga we’re giving UK variant more opportunities to spread if we increased capacity in public transportation,” explained Dr. Guido David of the UP OCTA Research.

The group also recognizes the need to resume operations of provincial buses.

However, there must be a concrete guideline for operators and drivers and the standard health protocols should be strictly imposed at all times to curb transmission.

Experts said it would be best to place the entire country under MGCQ once the COVID-19 vaccination commences.

“It’s very important to vaccinate our front liners because they will help us in preventing surges. Even if we don’t see the effect immediately the vaccine roll-out will have a really big impact on our public health outlook and definitely moving to MGCQ will definitely possible,” David said.

The group sees a possible doubling of COVID-19 cases if the decision to relax quarantine measures is imposed in haste and without proper safeguards. MNP (with reports from Joan Nano)

DOTr, PPA to inaugurate new passenger building terminal of Tagbilaran Port on April 14

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will inaugurate the new Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) of the Port of Tagbilaran.

The inauguration is scheduled for April 14 which will also be the formal start of the terminal’s operations.

“The completion of the development project is an important milestone for Tagbilaran City’s main seaport after it sustained significant structural damage from a strong earthquake in 2013,” the DOTr said in a statement.

The newly-completed PTB will augment the passenger capacity of the Port of Tagbilaran to further provide the public with more comfortable and convenient sea travel. It can accommodate 613 additional passengers, bringing the total capacity to 1,110.

In addition to the completed two (2)-story Passenger Terminal Building, the PPA also constructed a pump house, installed concrete pavements, and built lamp post foundations at the port. AAC

LRT-MRT Common Station approaching 50% completion — DOTr

Marje Pelayo   •   March 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Wednesday, March 23, announced that the LRT-MRT Common Station that would link the Light Rail Transit (LRT) with the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) is around 50 percent complete.

In its latest Facebook post, the DOTr said the overall progress rate of the common station project now stands at 48.48 percent.

The project, which started some seven years ago, is targeted to be completed in December 2021.

The common station features a 13,700-square meter “concourse area,” which will “seamlessly interconnect” the rail lines of LRT-1, MRT-3, MRT-7, and the much-awaited Metro Manila Subway.

The project is expected to ease mobility of commuters in Metro Manila, particularly along the main transit routes, from Baclaran to Monumento to the entire length of EDSA.

DOTr seeks public’s help in identifying woman taking selfie sans face mask inside MRT-3

Marje Pelayo   •   March 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is seeking the public’s help in identifying the woman seen in a viral video taking a selfie inside an MRT-3 train without a face mask and face shield.

“We deem the passenger’s action not only reckless and insensitive, but also posed a possible threat to the health of her fellow passengers,” the DOTr statement said.

“We now ask the public’s assistance for information to identify the woman on the video, for investigation and filing of appropriate charges due to violations of the public health and safety protocols,” it added,

The Department said an investigation is likewise being conducted to determine if there was any negligence on the part of the transport marshal on duty.

In light of the incident, the agency once again called on MRT-3 passengers to religiously observe health protocols inside trains, and to be patient and obedient when transport marshals remind or warn them not to breach the rules.

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