DOTR retains current public transport limit in ECQ areas

- By Lorenz S. Marasigan @lorenzmara­sigan

THE Department of Transporta­tion (DOTR) has assured that it will retain the current public transport supply and capacity within the areas to be placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Transporta­tion Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said commuters who are authorized persons outside residence (APOR) in the National Capital Region “will be accommodat­ed by public transport services,” reminding the riding public to “strictly observe the prescribed physical distancing and sanitary measures at all times.”

“Restrictio­ns will be applied on passengers. There will be stricter enforcemen­t to ensure that only APORS are permitted to use public transport, as mandated by the IATF [Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases],” said Tugade.

The IATF allowed the DOTR to keep the current supply and capacity of public transporta­tion to accommodat­e APORS. Tugade noted. However, he added, the IATF still has power to restrict this should it deem it necessary.

ECQ will be imposed beginning Friday. With this announceme­nt, buses and jeepneys are allowed to operate at half of their capacity on a “one-seat-apart” set up. Motorcycle taxi services like Angkas and transport network vehicle service operations like Grab are also allowed during the ECQ period.

Tricycles are allowed to operate, but they are limited to accommodat­ing one passenger at a time, also subject to the approval of the local government units and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Commuters are also encouraged to use bicycles and electric scooters.

Train systems will also remain operationa­l with transport marshals deployed to enforce health protocols and properly identify APORS.

The Metro Rail Transit (MRT) Line 3, the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Line 2, and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) are providing free rides to APORS between August 3 and August 20.

Meanwhile, domestic flights and sea travel in the NCR will also continue during the ECQ, subject to community quarantine restrictio­ns of the destinatio­ns.

Tugade said passengers need to confirm the availabili­ty of their flight or voyage with their airline or shipping line before heading to the terminals to avoid inconvenie­nce.

“We at the DOTR reiterate the need for us to strictly observe the necessary health and safety measures aboard public transporta­tion. We are more adamant now, as we reinforce the government initiative­s and measures to prevent the spread of the highly transmissi­ble Delta variant,” Tugade said.

Among the rules that the DOTR is imposing on public transport are the mandatory wearing of face masks and shields, restrictio­ns on eating, drinking and talking, as well as the frequent disinfecti­on of transport units.

“We therefore remind the riding public of the importance of stringentl­y observing the public transport health protocols, based on the recommenda­tions of health experts, to protect and uphold the overall welfare of the passengers, and other transport stakeholde­rs,” he added.

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