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Sunday, September 13, 2020

DOTr gears up for implementation of reduced physical distancing in all public transport; adjustments set to accommodate more passengers



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In order to help in the opening and recovery of the economy, physical distancing between commuters inside public transportation will be reduced from 1-meter to .75 meter starting Monday, 14 September, provided that the “No Face Mask, No Face Shield, No Entry” policy, as well as the “No Talking and No Answering Calls” will strictly be implemented.

In a virtual press conference held 12 September 2020, sectoral heads and key attached agency officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) discussed the new measures that will be implemented following the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) of the proposal to increase ridership in public transportation by optimizing physical distance between passengers.

“Sa mga nakaraang araw ay nakita at narinig po namin ang mga hinaing ng ating mamamayan sa kakulangan ng public transportation, kasabay ang panawagan ng economic team na magtulong-tulong ang mga sektor upang mabuksan at makabangon na ang ekonomiya ng bansa. Kaya naman po inatasan ni Secretary Arthur Tugade ang ating mga sektor ng transportasyon na pag-aralan kung paano mapaparami ang kapasidad ng ating mga public transport na hindi sinasakripisyo ang kalusugan at kapakanan ng ating mamayanan,” DOTr Undersecretary for Administrative Service Artemio Tuazon, Jr. said.








To carry out the optimization of physical distance in public transportation, the DOTr Railways, Road Transport and Infrastructure, Maritime, and Aviation and Airports Sectors will start to roll out gradual implementation on the adjustments of physical distancing inside various transport hubs and public utility vehicles (PUVs).

The gradual reduction of physical distancing will be implemented in phases or after every two (2) weeks: from the present 1-meter distance which was enforced last 19 August 2020, it will be reduced to 0.75 meters (starting 14 September 2020), 0.5 meters (starting 28 September 2020), and 0.3 meters (starting 12 October 2020).

Initially, the IATF approved to reduce physical distancing by 0.5 meters. However, the Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade deemed it prudent and safe to instead gradually reduce it, starting at 0.75. The said protocol is likewise subject to changes should there be any concern after the implementation.

In the Railways Sector, the adjusted capacity of railway lines based on reduced physical distancing inside trains was presented in the said press briefing:

For the LRT-1: one (1) meter: 155 passengers; 0.75-meter: 204 passengers; 0.5-meter: 255 passengers; and 0.3-meter: 300 passengers.

For the LRT-2: one (1) meter: 160 passengers; 0.75-meter: 212 passengers; 0.5-meter: 274 passengers; and 0.3-meter: 502 passengers.

For the MRT-3: one (1)-meter: 153 passengers or a maximum capacity of 13%; 0.75-meter: 204 passengers or a maximum capacity of 17%; 0.5-meter: 255 passengers or a maximum capacity of 22%; and 0.3-meter: 327 passengers or a maximum capacity of 28%.

For the Philippine National Railways: one (1)-meter: 166 passengers; 0.75-meter: 184 passengers; 0.5-meter: 256 passengers; 0.3-meter: 320 passengers.

DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said that apart from consultations with medical experts and simulation activities regarding transmission and exposure, the enforcement of reduced physical distancing on railways was based on the results of a survey of international practice on how railway operators and regulators are handling the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Isa po sa mga nakita natin ayon po sa current na estado natin ng COVID-19 ay tayo na lang po ang natitira [na bansa] na nag-eenforce nitong 1-meter social distancing, especially po sa loob ng mga tren. Sa labas ng tren, sa mga istasyon ay nago-observe pa rin ng social distancing, pero pagdating sa loob, ayon sa pag-aaral, tayo na lang ang nag-eenforce nito,” Usec. Batan noted.

In the Road Sector, PUVs are also expected to accommodate more passengers with the enforcement of the new protocol.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra said that with the reduction of physical distancing to 0.75 meters starting Monday, Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs) will have an increased capacity from one to two passengers or 10-12%. For buses, an additional 1-3 passengers will be accommodated in a 2x2 type of bus, and from the 24-25 current passenger capacity of a 3x2 type of bus, it can now serve up to 36 passengers. Additionally, for UV Express, there will be an additional 1-2 passengers that can be served with the reduced physical distancing protocol.

In the Maritime Sector, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said that with the reduction of physical distancing in passenger vessels to 0.75 meters, passenger load capacity will also be increased to 75%. Meanwhile, passenger load capacity will be increased to 85% for the distance of 0.5 meters, and 85%-100% passenger capacity for the distance of 0.3 meters.

For ports and passenger terminals, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago said that strict health and safety protocols are continuously being implemented, such as the “no face mask, no face shield, no entry policy,” and physical distancing. The PPA is also set to launch its automated ticketing system and new contact tracing application for a hassle-free and technologically-driven initiative for monitoring of individuals.

For its part, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it will continue to provide assistance by enhancing personnel visibility and deployment of sea marshals to ensure that the new policy will be strictly observed.

Lastly, in the Aviation Sector, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) have assured that while air passengers are not being affected by the new social distancing protocol, health and sanitary measures are in place for passenger safety.

Meanwhile, to add more available PUVs, the LTFRB has also allowed the opening of 28 more traditional PUJ routes, with 1,159 authorized units to ply in Metro Manila starting Monday.

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