The recent easing of physical distancing in public transport will not result in crowding, with most public utility vehicles (PUVs) adding only a few passengers, according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Tugade, during the deliberation of the 2021 national budget on Tuesday, said the recent reduction of passenger distance from 1 meter (m) to 0.75 m will result in only one or more passengers in jeepneys and buses, while trains will have more passenger capacity depending on its configuration.
“Yung reduction to 0.75, hindi po ibig sabihin niyan magsisiksikan na ang mga tao. Sa jeepney at sa bus ang idadagdag mo lang diyan ay isa, dalawa, tatlo o apat na pasahero (The reduction to 0.75 m, that doesn’t mean people will be jammed together. In jeepneys and buses, there will be one, two, three, or four more passengers),” Tugade said.
He said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has originally recommended reducing physical distancing in public transport to 0.5 m, but the DOTr has instead implemented gradual easing of distancing to monitor whether the new measure will have negative effects.
“Two weeks ho it becomes gradual. Kung walang problema diyan, pupunta tayo sa yarda na 0.5, another two weeks. Kung walang mangyari, pupunta ka sa 0.3 (The gradual shift will happen after two weeks. If there are no problems, we’ll ease distancing to 0.5 m, then another two weeks. If there are still no problems, we’ll ease to 0.3 m),” Tugade said.
He said that while the general community quarantine has eased restrictions and allowed for a larger portion of the public to resume work, there is still a need to increase the capacity of public transportation to transport more workers.
Aside from reducing physical distancing, he said the DOTr continues to improve public transportation in other ways, such as the recent addition of three Dalian trains to the Metro Rail Transit Line 3’s (MRT-3) operation, resulting in less time between trains and more passengers transported.
He said the DOTr is also working to restore the trains of the Light Rail Transit Line 2 (LRT-2) that were non-operational since the fire in October 2019 while the Philippine National Railways will continue its acquisition of new trains from Indonesia to increase passenger capacity.
On Monday, the four trains in Metro Manila began the implementation of the reduced physical distancing in public transport, resulting in an increase in their maximum passenger capacity.
On Sept. 28, physical distancing will be further reduced to 0.5 m and to 0.3 m by October 12. (PNA)