Senate to begin probe on RFID cashless system on Dec. 17

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 14, 2020   •   759

The Senate will begin its investigation on the Toll Regulatory Board’s radio frequency identification (RFID) cashless system on Thursday (December 17), after its implementation caused heavy traffic along North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).

Senator Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Public Services Committee, said they have also summoned the Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to provide an explanation on how to address the congestion amid the RFID implementation.

The committee will also look into the complaints about malfunctioning RFID readers.

“Nais nating maayos ang sitwasyon para sa ating mga kababayan, na hindi naman sila napeperwisyo at nahihirapang pumila doon at nakababad ng matagal. Pangalawa, nais nating malaman ano ba talaga ang naging dahilan kung bakit hindi maayos ang pagpapatakbo nito (We want to fix the situation for our fellowmen and spare them the inconvenience of queueing for hours. Secondly, we want to know the real reason for the lapses in its implementation),” she said in a statement. 

Poe said the cashless system should provide ease of travel for motorists along expressways as well as prevent them from getting infected with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker is also eyeing temporarily suspending the full implementation of the RFID cashless system. AAC

DOTr inaugurates expanded Puerto Princesa Port

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Transportation on Thursday (November 4) inaugurated the expanded Puerto Princesa Port.

Transportation Secretary Art Tugade and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Santiago led the inauguration of the project which was completed on July 20, 2021.

The DOTr said the expanded Puerto Princesa Port aims for more productivity by strengthening its long-haul connection to Metro Manila and planned connectivity to the island of Mindoro through the Port of Bulalacao.

The port serves as the province’s primary maritime gateway for commerce, trade, and tourism.

“Around 1,500 international and local vessels call at Puerto Princesa Port per year, while it also handles approximately 1.7 metric tons of cargoes. Moreover, 200,000 passengers use the port annually, including almost 6,000 cruise-tourism passengers,” the DOTr said.

For the past five years, the Puerto Princesa Port underwent several expansions and improvements to address the needs of its users as the seaport. The expansion of the Puerto Princesa Port forms part of the 472 commercial and social-tourism projects completed by the DOTr and PPA nationwide since the Duterte administration took over in 2016. AAC

 

 

 

PUVs in NCR, nearby areas to accommodate more passengers starting Nov. 4

Robie de Guzman   •   November 3, 2021

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.

DOTr ready to defend recommendation to increase PUV passenger capacity

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is prepared to defend its recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transportation, road, and rail.

In a statement released on Tuesday (October 26), DOTr Asec. Steve Pastor said the Department has submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) its formal position paper on the increase in passenger capacity for public transport.

“Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50% na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang Kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100% based on medical literature that is available. At the same time, we are ready to defend our position to IATF this Thursday,” he said.

The recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transport aims to help drivers and operators amid the pandemic and the continued increase of fuel prices.

The DOTr’s proposed passenger capacity increase in public transport, with a pilot run in Metro Manila, is anchored on the following arguments:

1. Metro Manila is now under Alert Level 3, which allows for more businesses to open, and more people going out, which resulted to greater demand for public transport. Studies have shown that reliance on complete face mask use and partial hand sanitizer use were proven enough to contain three very modest COVID-19 waves while preserving normal bus services. Other studies have also revealed that passengers in the high-risk zones (seats in the same row with an infected passenger and within 3 rows) had moderate but not significantly higher risk, and that “rigid” safe distancing rules are an oversimplification based on outdated science and experiences of past viruses.

2. The livelihood of public transport drivers and operators were severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50%. Increasing passenger capacity will mean a higher revenue for the public transport sector. This will be a welcome development considering the increase in expenses brought by increasing fuel prices.

3. Metro Manila is the ideal place to test the proposal considering that 81.4% of its population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, public utility jeepneys and buses operating in Metro Manila are well-ventilated.

4. The DOTr had also conducted a rapid analysis of available data on COVID-19 cases (7-day average cases per 1 million population) and public transport capacity, which covered 10 countries (Philippine, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Australia, Vietnam, and Malaysia). It was found out that public transport capacity has no significant correlation with the number of COVID-19 cases

5. Evidence also suggest that high vaccination rate prompts an increase in allowed PUV capacity. AAC

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