WITH Baguio City extending its general community quarantine (GCQ) status until June 15, public transport operations are asked comply with strict health safety measures against coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Francs Ray Almora, director of Land Transportation Office (LTO)-Cordillera, said guidelines on public transportation’s operations during the extended GCQ are already out, requiring all operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) to apply and secure a special permit, free of charge, through LTFRB regional office.
“The Land Transportation Office recognizes the importance of public transport as a vital part in the economic recovery stage after our areas in CAR will have been reclassified into GCQ or to a modified GCQ. The Department of Transportation and Railways (DOTr) came out with the protocols and guidelines on the operation of public transport and for our case in the Cordillera, we only have the road sector spearheaded by the LTFRB and the LTO,” Almora said.
Under the guidelines, drivers and conductors shall mandatorily wear masks and gloves at all times while commuters are also required to wear masks in order to be allowed to board a PUV.
Drivers or conductors should collect payment at the front seat before allowing the passenger to board the PUV in the event the automatic fare collection system in the vehicle is non-operational or if the commuter is paying in cash.
“In general, transport is permitted in the GCQ areas however this will still follow guidelines on the enhanced sanitary protocols to prevent transmission. Why do we have to follow this? Because public transport is one of those that we cannot easily control since majority will be using public transport to move around, this is why we in the DOTr is trying to ensure that the transmission of the Covid-19 can be prevented by these protocols that we have put in place,” the transportation Director stated.
The guidelines states that for UV Express vehicles, which are strictly point-to-point service, the drivers or conductors should only collect payment at their designated terminals.
Public utility buses (PUBs) on the other hand will be equipped with thermal scanners for the checking of body temperature of all commuters, those with a temperature of 38 degrees centigrade or higher will not be allowed to board the vehicle.
Vehicles will be disinfected every end of their trip with all surfaces, especially seats, armrests, handles, wiped down with disinfecting agent, at least once every two hours if the vehicle is in continuous operation.
PUB drivers or conductors should also provide foot-disinfectant for passengers to be placed on the door steps s while the driver’s compartment should be sealed off from passenger area using non-permeable, transparent material.
Operators may install impermeable barriers between rows of seats that are less than one meter apart if they wish to maximize 50 percent passenger load in compliance with one-meter physical distancing imposed by the Department of Health (DOH).
Drivers and conductors’ fitness to work must be regularly examined and should they show symptoms of Covid–19, they will be prohibited to report to work and must be endorsed to the nearest medical facility by the PUV operator.
All terminal personnel are ordered to wear masks and gloves.
A disinfecting facility, such as hand washing basin, supplied with alcohol and/or soap should be set up at strategic locations within the terminal, and should be located along the entrances wherever practicable, and must be available at all times.
All commuters are required to pass and utilize the disinfecting facilities before entering the terminal. Ticket sellers should wear face masks and gloves at all times and, if possible, they should be separated in a booth to limit physical interaction with commuters. There should also be medical personnel present in the terminal premises.
“A special permit will be required before an operator is allowed to ply the route that they previously were servicing, the identification on who among the operators will be issued permits, we work with the LGU like in the case of the City of Baguio, who identified how many operators should be given the permits and what routes should be serviced based on its requirements,” Almora added.
For contact tracing measures, all provincial, city, and premium point-to-point (P2P) buses will have a passenger manifest where the conductor can record pertinent information of the commuters who utilized the vehicle for contact tracing purposes.
To further enhance the contact tracing, passengers of PUVs, especially city bus, PUJ, and UV Express, are encouraged to take note of the plate number or body number of the PUV/s they rode, date and time they boarded the PUV, and the route they took.
All PUVs should display a reminder with the plate number/body number of the vehicle and contact number of operators prominently visible by all passengers while drivers, conductors, and all related-personnel shall keep a log of their daily travel to and from work.
Passenger of public utility buses (PUBs) and public utility jeepneys (PUJs) should not exceed 50% or half of the vehicle’s capacity, excluding driver and conductor.
UV Express and taxis, passenger load should not exceed two passengers per row, except for the driver’s row where only one passenger is allowed, while tricycles must not exceed one passenger in the side-car, while back riding is not allowed.
On enforcement measures, LTFRB and LTO will provide the appropriate issuances to implement the guidelines.
The two agencies, together with other Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) authorized personnel will conduct daily random inspections of PUV operations, offices, terminals and depots to ensure strict compliance with the service, sanitary, and operational requirements described above.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), LTO, LTFRB, Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) and local government units (LGUS) will provide enforcers to post at strategic locations and conduct random spot checking and enforce physical distancing measures in PUVs, transport terminals, and other related facilities to ensure the compliance to the guidelines set.
The guidelines add that non-compliance by a private vehicle driver/owner, PUV driver and operator, and private or public transport terminal operator on the said guidelines or protocols will be treated as a violation and be penalized in accordance with the existing rules and regulations.