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