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COVID-19 WATCH

Go: Transport operations will open slowly, but surely

TDT

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Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go stressed on Monday that while public transportation is now being opened to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the government is making sure that it will be safe for commuters.

In a statement, the senator said that Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año gave the assurance that the government is making adjustments that can address the needs of the general public when it comes to transportation without compromising their health and safety.

“We want to give the public some transportation options that follow health protocols while there are still community quarantine measures still in effect,” said Go. “While opening public transportation services will be a great help, we should do it slowly, but surely.”

Go also urged the public to not be complacent as the threat of COVID-19 still lingers and follow health protocols such as wearing masks and observe social distancing.

“We have to ensure that the measures being implemented continue to be timely, responsive and decisive considering the best interests of Filipinos,” said Go.

Meantime, the Department of Transportation (DoTr) on Monday revealed that just like the UV Express, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is also crafting guidelines for the resumption of operation of traditional jeepneys.

In a television interview, DoTr Road Sector senior consultant Engr. Alberto Suansing admitted that modern jeepneys are not enough serve the riding public in Metro Manila even amid the general community quarantine (GCQ).

“The number of modern jeepneys will not be enough considering the routes they have to ply,” said Suansing, “So we are preparing to see if we can use UV Express and traditional jeepneys as well.”

“The LTFRB is already making the guidelines in order for them to be utilized,” he added.

Transport group Samahang Manibela president Mar Valbuena, meantime, said that they can also craft guidelines that the UV Express and jeepney’s can follow as the UV Express and jeepney drivers need to return to work for they no longer have money to feed their families and provide for other needs.

In response, Suansing said they are already studying such option but one of the consideration is how it can be enforced.

“We are already studying such options on the proposal,” said Suansing. “We are looking into the practicality of things especially on enforcement.”

Suansing also noted that the DoTr wanted to make sure that the health of the public will not be compromised when the government allows UV Express and traditional jeepneys to ply their routes.

“We are preparing the guidelines because we also have a responsibility when it comes to public health and safety,” said Suansing. “We do not want to further spread the coronavirus disease.”

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), on the other hand, said that high capacity mode of transportation is the priority of the government as of the moment as Metro Manila continues to be under GCQ.

MMDA spokesman Celine Pialago said that former jeepney routes like Rizal Avenue going to Monumento will be used by hybrid buses to fetch more passengers and to ensure social distancing is strictly observed in public transport system in the metropolis.

Pialago added that the routes that are being formerly used by the old passenger jeepney’s will be used by bus and the EDSA Carousel will be implemented, which is included in the route rationalization that is being implemented by the DoTr.

“The priority at the moment are the high capacity city buses and modern jeepney’s to ply to old routes of the said mode of public transportation as the pandemic to continue,” said Pialago.

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