The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Monday said public transport vehicles who will have special permits will be allowed to operate once Metro Manila downgrades to general community quarantine (GCQ) from enhanced community quarantine ( ECQ).
In a virtual Senate hearing led by Senator Grace Poe, LTFRB laid down their plans on how they will implement health protocols once suspension for public transportation is lifted.
LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra said they will issue “special permit” for buses, modernized jeepneys, traditional jeepneys, and public utility van and theses vehicles can only operate on specific routes.
“Once the areas are classified as GCQ, the suspension of public transport is lifted. However, there are certain restrictions primarily and I would like to emphasize this for public considerations,” Delgra said.
He said they are putting public health as the highest priority and second is the public transport.
According to the memorandum circular LTFRB released last May 1, those who still have franchise to operate public transport vehicles will need to apply for a special permit so they will be allowed to go once it is downgraded to GCQ.
But Delgra said issuance of such permit will depend on the unit that can carry people considering the reduced capacity
“The policy here is that, the unit that will bring as many people considering the reduce capacity of our public transport would be prioritize. In terms of land based, that would be buses and goes all the way down to modernized jeepney, traditional jeepney and van,” he said.
“So we have the routes, we have the supply, and the process by which they would be able to run, the basic requirement of course they will still have the franchise, we are not going to allowed colorum to run on the road… Having said that, the process would be by way of issuance of special permit,” he said.
“If the buses are not enough, the modernized jeepney will come in; if the modern jeepneys will not be enough then the traditional jeepney will also be given special permit… in so far the demand is concerned, we already studied how the demand will come about once the area is declared GCQ,” he said.
Delgra said they will also not implement a fare hike and will just come up with a financial package for affected drivers and operators.
“We have the balance the interest between the operators and the commuters… after such long discussion considering our commuting public once (it is lowered to ) GCQ. They don’t have work for a long time. We don’t want to add burden to the commuting public at this point so LTFRB in consultation with DOTr( Department of Transportation) decided not to increase the fare in all types of public transport that will be allowed to run,” he said.
“The DOTr road sector have come up with some packages on how to help the operators… DOTr came up with some financial package to help sustained the viability of our public transport,” he added.
DOTr said they are pushing for a P8.8 billion fuel subsidy to drivers that will be affected once the GCQ is implemented.
For transportation network vehicle service (TNVS) and taxis, Delgra said they are not required to apply for a special permit as they are preparing a separate memorandum circular. for them.
“They will be allowed starting May 16 but we anticipate volume (of passengers) by May 17,” he said.
For taxis, he said they can pick up passengers through straight hail or online booking.
He added they are pushing for cashless payment if possible for the passengers.
Delgra also added public transport vehicles will not have their regular route under GCQ.
“In so far as the route is concerned, the rationalization of the routes, at least during the GCQ are in consultation with DILG. The regional offices are directed to coordinate with local government units where the GCQ status is established,” Delgra said.
MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia also said the routes that will be placed along EDSA will just be a connector for commuters to reach their destinations.
“This is the right time we will change our public transport… what we will do to EDSA is just a connector… it will just be a rotunda… the turnaround of buses will be faster and more passengers can ride,” Garcia said.
Garcia said though it will be hard to commuters to change vehicles to and from their destinations, their travel period will be faster.
“We will use connectivity… we will give buses their route on where they will just go around EDSA, even the passengers are changing on different vehicles the trip is faster,” he said.
He said they will be placing markers on bus stops to observe social distancing and promote discipline to the commuting public.
Delgra also appealed to companies, especially in economic zones to bring their employees through shuttle services.
“I would like to make this suggestion especially to those companies in economic zones that if I may and this is our appeal to utilize shuttle service for employees for free… We are actually suggesting and encouraging the use of shuttle service for companies who are allowed to go back to work,” he said.
Delgra said they are eyeing around 3.5 million working commuters once the GCQ is implemented in Metro Manila. Ella Dionisio/DMS