MANILA, Philippines – The increase in passenger capacity for rail lines and selected public utility vehicles (PUV) operating in the National Capital Region (NCR) and nearby provinces will be implemented starting Thursday, Nov. 4, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.
In a statement, the DOTr said PUVs in the NCR, and the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan will be allowed to carry passengers up to 70% of their capacity.
Under the Memorandum Circular 2021-064 issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on November 2, 2021, public utility buses (PUBs), public utility jeepneys, and UV Express (UVEs) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces may operate under the approved passenger capacity “as a result of the continuous decline in COVID-19 infections and government’s aggressive COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.”
The policy will be implemented after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved last week the recommendation of DOTr and the LTFRB to gradually increase the passenger capacity in public transportation for one month until they reach full capacity.
“Pursuant to the recommendation of the DOTr, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued Resolution No. 146, series of 2021, dated 28 October 2021, granting the increase in passenger capacity starting at seventy percent (70%),” the memorandum read.
The LTFRB also clarified that plastic barriers inside public utility jeepneys are not required nationwide, provided that proper physical distancing is observed, and passengers practice health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Hindi ‘ho DOTr ang nag-require na magkaroon ng plastic barrier sa pagitan ng mga pasahero ng pampublikong sasakyan gaya ng jeepney. Ang inilabas na protocol ng DOTr noon ay ang pag-install ng plastic barrier upang ihiwalay ang drayber sa pasahero noong tayo ay nasa GCQ noong nakaraang taon,” LTFRB Chairperson Martin Delgra III said.
Delgra explained that with the growing demand for public transportation, there is a need to increase passenger capacity in PUVs as quarantine restrictions are beginning to ease and more businesses are reopening.
He added that the increase in passenger capacity will help cushion the impact of the pandemic and the recent hike in fuel prices on the livelihood of PUV drivers and operators.
“The livelihood of public transport drivers and operators was severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50%. Increasing passenger capacity will mean higher revenue for the public transport sector lalo’t mas marami ng tao ang pinapayagang lumabas. Malaking tulong ito sa ating mga kababayang pasahero at mga tsuper,” he added.
In the railway sector, the DOTr said that LRT 1, LRT-2, MRT-3, and PNR shall likewise implement the increase in passenger capacity from the current 30% to 70%.
Despite the ease of quarantine restrictions and the gradual increase in passenger capacity in public transport, the DOTr reminded the public to continue adhering to minimum health protocols to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Existing health and safety measures for PUVs will also be implemented, including the wearing face masks and face shields, prohibition on talking and making telephone calls, eating, and physical distancing.