Metro Manila community quarantine transportation restrictions: Here’s what you need to know

Robie de Guzman   •   March 14, 2020   •   3994

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Saturday, March 14 released a set of guidelines for public transportation restrictions during the implementation of the community quarantine in Metro Manila effective Sunday, March 15 to April 14.

Under the guidelines, drivers and operators of public utility vehicles need to observe the following passenger limit:

  • UV Express van should not have more than six (6) passengers including driver; passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Public jeepneys should not board more than half of their regular capacity including driver, passengers should be one seat apart
  • Public buses should not have more than 25 passengers including driver and conductor, without any standing passenger. Passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Taxis/Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), including accredited airport taxis should not have more than four passengers, including driver. One seat apart distance between passengers should be maintained.
  • Multiple bookings for a single trip provided by the TNVS is prohibited.

Provincial buses and inter-regional trips of jeepneys and UV Express traveling to and from Metro Manila shall be terminated on the entry points identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Buses and jeepneys will be waiting at these entry points for unloaded passengers from outside Metro Manila.

Drivers and conductors should also remind passengers to be ready to present valid company ID, which shows the address of workplace, and government-issued ID, which shows their place of residence.

Point-to-Point (P2P) Buses from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Clark International Airport and Sangley Airport shall be allowed to operate as scheduled, subject to protocols or procedures of the Department of Health (DOH) and the PNP.

The guidelines also stated that the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis is suspended during the quarantine.

Authorities also directed operators to inform their drivers and conductors to be observant of their passengers and bring them to the nearest hospital should they manifest any symptom of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including cough, fever and breathing difficulty. They are also required to report the incident to the DOH and the PNP for proper handling.

For train services, the guidelines state the following:

  • Trains and platform shall be loaded at reduced capacity of 25% to reduce the concentration of passengers per train. One-meter social distancing rule will also be maintained.
  • Women and senior citizens section of train cars will be further separated to designated a subsection for the elderly.
  • Philippine National Railways (PNR) operations from Alabang to Calamba in Laguna and vice versa is suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Trains, including its interiors, and station premises and surfaces frequently touched by the public will also have to be disinfected at least every loop or every time a train reaches its end-stations.

The guidelines also directed station personnel to regulate the entry of passengers from station platforms to trains.

For air travel, the guidelines state that:

  • All domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are suspended; exemptions include cargo flights air ambulance, and government supplies, government military flights, weather mitigation flights, and maintenance and utility flights.
  • General aviation flights are also suspended during the quarantine period, and will be diverted to Sangley Airport and Clark Airport.
  • Special airport-to-airport international flight arranged by the airlines, and coordinated with airport authorities are allowed.
  • Passengers of international/commercial flights may opt to terminate flight in Metro Manila, and arrange their own transport within the region
  • Local airlines will also be endeavored by Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to operate sweeper flights out of Manila and into other airports.

Issuance of access passes for visitors is suspended, and only passengers and essential personnel are allowed to enter and exit airport terminals.

The guidelines also stated that one-meter social distancing among passengers shall be observed.

For sea travel, the following measures shall be strictly implemented:

  • Passenger traffic in all ports going in and out of Metro Manila will be suspended during the quarantine period.
  • Ferry services within Metro Manila will continue to operate but with 50% capacity per vessel.
  • Ships plying routes within Metro Manila will be allowed to dock at ports outside the region upon application for the issuance of special permit with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
  • Cargo vessels are still allowed to move to and from Metro Manila. Cargo trucks/vans going in and out of Port of Manila shall present a Cargo Entry/Withdrawal Permit secured from the Philippine Ports Authority for validation at designated checkpoints.
  • Foreign and domestic ships are directed to unload their wastes as the next port of call outside Metro Manila as waste reception services at the ports shall be suspended.

Authorities said the guidelines for transportation restrictions shall take effect immediately and shall be applicable until the declaration of public health emergency of international concern has been lifted.

The DOTr, however, stressed that these measures are subject to daily review and revision as necessary.

Mabigat na trapiko at hirap sa pagsakay, bumungad sa unang araw ng GCQ sa Metro Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   June 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Mabigat na daloy ng mga sasakyan sa kahabaan ng EDSA ang bumungad sa mga motorista sa unang araw ng general community quarantine (GCQ) sa Metro Manila.

Ito ay dahil sa bulto ng mga pribadong sasakyan, pampasaherong bus na ginamit sa augmentation program ng Department of Transportation (DOTr), at mga taxi at transport network vehicle service na pinayagan nang bumiyahe sa ilalim ng GCQ.

Nakadagdag rin sa pagsisikip ng trapiko sa kalsada ang pag-arangkada ng point-to-point (P2P) buses, shuttle services ng mga kumpanya at mga bisikleta.

Nagsimula na ring gamitin ngayong araw ng mga pampasaherong bus ang innermost lane ng EDSA.

Pero hindi natapos ang loading at unloading bay areas sa ilalim ng MRT-3 stations kaya apat na istasyon lang muna ang hihintuan ng mga bus upang magsakay at magbaba ng mga pasahero.

Ito ay ang North Avenue station, Quezon Avenue, Ayala at Taft Stations.

Batay sa patakaran ng Inter-Agency Task Force, limitado lang ang bilang ng mga pasaherong maaaring sumakay sa mga pampublikong sasakyan pang masunod ang panuntunan sa physical distancing.

Hindi rin lahat ng ruta ng pampasaherong bus ang pinayagang magbalik-pasada kaya pahirapan ang pagsakay ng mga pasahero.

May ilang pasahero na inabot ng ilang oras sa paghihintay ng masasakyan habang may iba namang naglakad na lang papasok sa trabaho.

Ang construction worker na si Jonathan Suico, madaling araw pa umalis sa Rizal ngunit naglakad rin pagdating sa may EDSA-Shaw Boulevard dahil walang masakyang bus papunta sa kanyang trabaho.

“Pupunta sana dun sa dulo kung may bus, eh ang masama nga eh, wala po eh. Wala pong magagawa po ma’am eh. Maglalakad na lang po,” ani Suico.

Humingi naman ng pang-unawa ang DOTr sa publiko sa limitadong transportasyon.

Ipinaalala rin ng kagawaran na naka-community quarantine pa rin naman ang Metro Manila at hindi pa maaaring lubusang magbalik-operasyon ang sektor ng transportasyon.

“Humihingi rin kami ng inyong pag-iintindi kasi nga ho, ‘wag nating kalimutan na tayo ay quarantine pa rin ho… At ang nangingibabaw po sa pagdating sa kagawaran ng transportasyon, ay ang inyong kalusugan, ang inyong kaligtasan,” ani Transportation Assistant Secretary Giovanni Lopez sa isang panayam sa UNTV ngayong Lunes.

Samantala, sinabi naman ni Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III na pinag-aaralan na nila ang paglalagay ng bus stops sa Cubao at Ortigas Station kung saan malaki ang bulto ng mga pasahero.

“Nakita natin na full force ngayong araw yung mga bus na binigyan natin ng special permit so tuloy tuloy,” ani Delgra.

Tulad sa mga tren, limitado lang din sa 50-porsyento ng kapasidad ng mga pampublikong sasakyan ang bilang ng mga pasaherong maaaring isakay.

Dapat rin ay nasusunod sa mga ito ang physical distancing at iba pang health protocols upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng coronavirus disease. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspendent Harlene Delgado)

PH to use cashless payment system in taxis to further curb COVID-19 spread – DOTr

Robie de Guzman   •   May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it is working on forging partnerships with various digital payment providers for the implementation of cashless or contactless transactions in taxis and Transport Network Service Vehicles (TNVS) as part of the “new normal” amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, the DOTr said it has tapped payment platforms to help equip taxis and TNVS with scan-to-pay systems to limit direct physical contact between drivers and passengers, thus further curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Taxis and Transport Network Companies (TNC) are allowed to operate in areas placed under general community quarantine at reduced capacity and with strict health and safety protocols.

“Cashless and contactless payment scheme will now be part of the ‘new normal’ in the public transportation system,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said.

The DOTr said one of the first to tie-up with the government for this purpose is GCash.

Under the partnership, GCash will help enable taxi drivers to accept digital payments through the Scan To Pay app where GCash users only need to scan the unique QR code of the taxi unit they are riding in paying for their metered fares.

GCash is also offering the GCash PowerPay+ solution to taxi operators where they can send out salaries, allowances, and commissions through to their employees, or members nationwide, the DOTr said.

“GCash strongly supports the government’s call for the use of mobile payments to lessen the risk of spreading COVID-19 through surfaces such as paper money,” GCash Head of Payments Jovit Bajar said.

Authorities are also in talks with other payment platforms PayMaya, Squidpay and Beep, among others, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said in the same statement.

“We had consultations with these providers over the weekend. We are encouraging these digital payment providers to partner with taxi operators and TNCs to lessen the chance of COVID-19 spread,” LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III said.

“On the part of the TNCs such as Hirna, Grab and Owto, they are already accepting cashless transactions,” he added.

Duterte warns of return to strict quarantine restrictions if COVID-19 crisis worsens

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminds the public to heed government protocols for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis even after community quarantine has been relaxed. 

On May 16, Metro Manila shifted to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) from enhanced community quarantine to help revive the Philippines’ crippled economy. 

But President Duterte stressed that such relaxation in restrictions doesn’t mean the country is free of COVID-19 and warned that the government might again tighten restrictions if situations get worse. 

“Remember this, the loosening of the restrictions does not mean [we’re COVID-free],” he said. 

“If the contamination will be as fast as before, and it will continue to infect yung nakalabas na (people who are allowed to go out), then we’ll have to just go back to original program,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque denied allegations that the government is not ready or has no policy for the conduct of COVID-19 mass testing. 

Roque stressed that the government in fact is now preparing to hit the target of 30,000 a day testing capacity by the end of May. 

“From the very beginning, we have had a systematic targeted testing at sa tingin po natin ang sinusunod natin ay benchmark recognized internationally specifically by the WHO,” the Palace Spokesperson said in defense against against critics who are questioning the government’s advice of letting private companies shoulder COVID-19 testing for their respective workers who are returning to work. 

Roque added that the government is targeting to test around 1.5% to 2% of the more than 100 million Filipinos for COVID-19 infection and clarified on what is referred to as ‘mass testing.’

“Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing,” he said. 

READ: Phl conducting ‘expanded’ targeted testing, not mass testing vs COVID-19 – DOH

“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na ang lahat ng mga mamamayan nito (ay tine-test) kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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