Last night, President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that Metro Manila will be shifting from Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) to General Community Quarantine (GCQ) come June 1, 2020. In effect, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced the implementation of ‘new normal’ guidelines for the Road Transport sector.
Under the updated Public Transport Guidelines and Protocols, there will be two phases to be executed by the DOTr as the capital transitions to normality and different public transport operations slowly resume.
Phase 1 (covering June 1 to 21) will permit the operations of trains, taxis, TNVS, shuttle services, point-to-point buses, and bicycles with limited passenger capacity. The limited capacity guidelines of such transportation services and mass transportation units entail the strict enforcement of the one-meter social distance rule among passengers. The DOTr added that tricycles will be allowed under the GCQ, but subject to the prior approval of concerned Local Government Units (LGU).
Provincial buses, however, will NOT be allowed to enter Metro Manila under the GCQ.
Phase 2 (covering June 22 to 30) will see the return of limited operations of Public Utility Buses (PUBs), Modern PUVs, and UV Express. This will also include the initial set of transport modes allowed to operate under Phase 1. The one-meter social distance guidelines will also remain in place.
Railway operations will resume under two separate stages in each Phase of the GCQ; 11 stations will be opened under Phase 1, while Phase 2 will see 15 stations.
For public transportation in areas under GCQ, stringent sanitary measures have been set, and will be strictly enforced, such as:
- Wearing of face masks at all times
- Implementation of no-contact measures such as cashless payments.
- Use of thermal scanners
- Availability of alcohol and sanitizers in Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs)
- Disinfection of high-touch surfaces of vehicles
- Establishment of disinfection facilities in various public transport terminals
- Contact Tracing
The DOTr alongside also intends to take advantage of technology in implementing its initiatives to minimize physical contact and face-to-face interaction during the time of this pandemic. Automatic fare collection system (AFCS) for cashless payment transactions, electronic toll collection, and GNSS/GPS cover these initiatives by the government agency.
In cooperation with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the DOTr is also putting into place the Public Transport Online Processing System (PTOPS), which is set to run in the National Capital Region (NCR) come June 1, 2020. With the exception of publication and hearing of cases, this system will allow transactions to be made online.
Under the GCQ setting, the DOTr will also adopt an updated traffic system in EDSA. Dedicated lanes for buses, designated bike lanes, and new Pedestrian Crossing and Buses Boarding areas will be put up in strategic places.