THE increase in passenger capacity from 50 percent to 70 percent for rail lines and select public utility vehicles (PUVs) that operate in the National Capital Region (NCR) and adjacent provinces will start tomorrow, November 4, 2021.
According to Memorandum Circular 2021-064 issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on November 2, 2021, “Public Utility Buses (PUBs), Public Utility Jeepneys (PUJs), and UV Express (UVEs) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the Metro Manila Urban Transportation Integration Study (MMUTIS) Update and Capacity Enhancement Project (MUCEP) or the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan may operate under the approved passenger capacity as a result of the continuous decline in COVID-19 infections and government’s aggressive COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.”
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved earlier the recommendation of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the LTFRB to implement the gradual increase in passenger capacity in public transportation, including road and railway systems for one month until they reach full capacity.
“Pursuant to the recommendation of the DOTr, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) issued Resolution No. 146, series of 2021, dated 28 October 2021, granting the increase in passenger capacity starting at seventy percent (70 percent),” the memorandum read.
Below is the estimated number of passengers that can be accommodated in the rail lines per train set:
30% capacity: 337 (1G trains), 407 (2G trains), 416 (3G trains)
70% capacity: 785 (1G trains), 951 (2G trains), 972 (3G trains)
30% capacity: 488
70% capacity: 1,140
30% capacity: 372
70% capacity: 827
30% capacity: 286
70% capacity: 667
LTFRB Chairman Martin Delgra explained that with the growing demand for public transportation, there is a need to increase passenger capacity in PUVs as quarantine restrictions are beginning to ease and more businesses are reopening.
He added that the increase in passenger capacity will help cushion the impact of the pandemic and the recent hike in fuel prices on the livelihood of PUV drivers and operators.
“The livelihood of public transport drivers and operators was severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50 percent. Increasing passenger capacity will mean a higher revenue for the public transport sector lalo’t mas marami ng tao ang pinapayagang lumabas. Malaking tulong ito sa ating mga kababayang pasahero at mga tsuper,” Chairman Delgra added.
“Studies have shown that only 0.2 percent of traceable outbreaks in Germany were linked to transport; only 1.2 percent of COVID-19 clusters are linked to transport (land, air, and sea); and that there is only a 0.01 percent chance of contracting COVID-19 in public transportation, with the probability decreasing to 0.005 percent risk of infection with face covering,” DOTr Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan said.
Despite the ease of quarantine restrictions and the gradual increase in passenger capacity in public transport, the DOTr shall continuously enforce the strict observance of minimum health protocols.
Safety measures will still be required, including the 7 Commandments inside public transport: (1) Wearing face masks and face shields; (2) No talking and making telephone calls; (3) No eating; (4) Keeping public transport well-ventilated; (5) Conducting frequent disinfection; (6) No passengers with COVID-19 symptoms are to be allowed inside public transportation; and (7) Observing appropriate physical distancing rule.
On the issue of using plastic barriers in public transportation, the LTFRB clarified that plastic barriers inside public utility jeepneys are not required nationwide. However, proper physical distancing must be observed, and passengers practice health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Hindi ‘ho DOTr ang nag-require na magkaroon ng plastic barrier sa pagitan ng mga pasahero ng pampublikong sasakyan gaya ng jeepney. Ang inilabas na protocol ng DOTr noon ay ang pag-install ng plastic barrier upang ihiwalay ang drayber sa pasahero noong tayo ay nasa GCQ noong nakaraang taon,” Chairman Delgra emphasized.