One-seat apart rule in PUVs in ef­fect; health pro­to­col vi­o­la­tors face penal­ties

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By ALEXAN­DRIA DENNISE SAN JUAN

The one-seat part pol­icy has now ef­fec­tively re­placed the one-me­ter dis­tanc­ing rule in pub­lic trans­port but pas­sen­gers will also be al­lowed to sit be­side each other pro­vided that there are plas­tic bar­ri­ers sep­a­rat­ing them, the Land Trans­porta­tion Franchisin­g and Reg­u­la­tory Board (LTFRB) said.

This was in­cluded in the up­dated health pro­to­cols for pub­lic util­ity ve­hi­cles (PUVs) re­leased by the LTFRB through Me­moran­dum Cir­cu­lar 2020-061 to strengthen the en­force­ment of the new seat­ing rule.

Un­der the me­moran­dum dated Oct. 16, pas­sen­gers must be one­seat apart in­side PUVs but they will be al­lowed to sit next to each other as long as they are sep­a­rated by plas­tic bar­ri­ers that should be in­stalled in be­tween seats.

Min­i­mum health pro­to­cols must also be strictly ob­served by the pas­sen­gers in­side the pub­lic trans­port at all times such as the proper wear­ing of face masks and face shields.

The cir­cu­lar added that talk­ing or eat­ing in­side PUVs re­mained pro­hib­ited even with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new dis­tanc­ing rule while pas­sen­gers with symp­toms of COVID-19 will not be al­lowed to travel.

For op­er­a­tors and drivers, the LTFRB has di­rected them to pro­vide ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion in­side their units which should be prop­erly and fre­quently dis­in­fected. Aside from reg­u­lar dis­in­fect­ing agents, the Board said that use of UV lights will also be al­lowed.

As the me­moran­dum took ef­fect im­me­di­ately, the LTFRB warned that fail­ure to com­ply with the guide­lines set by the Board will in­cur penal­ties such as im­po­si­tion of fines or can­cel­la­tion or sus­pen­sion of the fran­chise or Cer­tifi­cate of Pub­lic Convenienc­e of the unit.

The eased pub­lic trans­port rule was ap­proved and unan­i­mously agreed upon dur­ing a Cabi­net meet­ing presided over by Pres­i­dent Duterte last week, al­low­ing in­creased pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity in PUVs to aid in eco­nomic re­vival.

Aside from road trans­port, Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade had ear­lier or­dered the rail sec­tor to in­crease pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity from 30 per­cent to 50 per­cent.

The mar­itime and avi­a­tion sec­tors were also di­rected by the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTr) chief to al­low more Rol­lon, Roll-off (RO-RO) op­er­a­tions and ad­di­tional flights to cater to more pas­sen­gers.

MRT pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity in­creased Mean­while, more com­muters will be ac­com­mo­dated by the Metro Rail Tran­sit Line 3 (MRT-3) be­gin­ning Mon­day as the rail­way sys­tem is set to in­crease its trains' pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity to 30 per­cent.

In a state­ment Satur­day, the MRT-3 man­age­ment said the rail line will be able to trans­port at least 124 pas­sen­gers per train car or 372 in a train set with the in­creased max­i­mum pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity to be im­ple­mented.

The max­i­mum pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity at the MRT-3 is cur­rently at 13 per­cent which trans­lates to 51 pas­sen­gers per train car or 153 per train set.

“We will do this to help trans­port more peo­ple. In ad­di­tion to in­creas­ing our train ca­pac­ity, our pas­sen­gers can also ex­pect more trains to be de­ployed along the main­line, shorter wait­ing time, and faster travel time,” MRT-3 Direc­tor for Op­er­a­tions Michael Ca­p­ati said.

“This is part of the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and MRT-3's com­mit­ment to pro­vide a more ef­fi­cient and im­proved ser­vice to our pas­sen­gers," he added.

Ac­cord­ing to Ca­p­ati, this move is a “timely boost” for the MRT-3 as more work­ers con­tinue to re­turn to their work­places, re­sult­ing in a higher de­mand for pub­lic trans­porta­tion amid the pan­demic.

Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade had ear­lier di­rected the rail­way sec­tor to in­crease the pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity of trains af­ter Pres­i­dent Duterte ap­proved rec­om­men­da­tions of an eased pub­lic trans­port to aid in eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

The MRT-3, to en­sure faster travel time and re­duced train head­way, added that it is con­tin­u­ously work­ing on the de­ploy­ment of more train sets.

The MRT-3 was able to de­ploy 22 train sets on its main­line on Sept. 21, the high­est num­ber of run­ning trains recorded in his­tory.

It was able to in­crease its train speed from 30 kilo­me­ters per hour (kph) to 40 kph on Oct. 1 af­ter the installati­on of new long-welded rails was com­pleted in all MRT-3 sta­tions which is part of the mas­sive re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram of the rail line be­ing im­ple­mented by Su­mit­o­moMit­subishi Heavy from Ja­pan.

The MRT-3 op­er­at­ing speed is ex­pected to grad­u­ally in­crease from 40 kph in Oc­to­ber to 50 kph by Novem­ber and 60 kph by De­cem­ber.

PICK­ING UP THE PIECES – Res­i­dents of East­bank Road, Flood­way in Cainta, Rizal, rum­mage through the rub­ble of what used to be their homes on Satur­day af­ter a fire razed the area Fri­day night. (Alvin Ka­si­ban)

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