Resolving vectors

Many observers are saying that among the biggest vectors for the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus is public transport.

Evidence for this may be anecdotal but social media posts show many public utility vehicles eschewing social distancing protocols for more revenue. Jeepneys are back to the habit of waiting for passengers at illegal terminals and pushing past the limits of passenger capacity set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Buses are also guilty of this. And are contactless payments still enforced?

The rail sector may be following capacity restrictions imposed by the IATF but posts showing lackadaisical implementation of disinfection procedures by train personnel went viral on social media. Just one more evidence of commuters and transport operators forgetting that there’s a dangerous virus still spreading and killing people.

Now transportation officials are scrambling to keep public transport safe enough to remain in operation.

Service contracting

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade reminded jeepney and bus operators about the Service Contracting Program (SCP) established especially to help them earn revenue even while strictly complying with capacity restrictions. conducting

The program was established under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” to augment the income of bus and jeepney drivers to recover lost income from reduced capacity.

In essence, the SCP pays drivers an amount for every kilometer of service rendered a day. This is in addition to the fare they collect from passengers. This was meant to make up for lost revenues due to reduced capacity.

It should be interesting to find out how many drivers have been benefitting from the program. The DOTr should provide a report on how the SCP is being implemented. How much of the millions allocated to it have been released? And has the program helped with efforts to minimize the spread of the contagion?

Rail reduction

The DOTr has directed light rail transit operators to scale down operations while conducting Covid-19 testing for personnel.

“We should not compromise the health, safety, and security of the traveling public and our working people. That is a non-negotiable position,” Sec. Tugade said in explaining the new mandate.

The MRT-3 is now dispatching just 10 to 12 trains instead of the 23 to 24. The MRT-3 management said it will also strictly limit train-set capacity to just 372 passengers or 124 passengers per car. Stations will also limit entry of passengers. The LRT-2 is also just dispatching 5 trains on its limited operations while the LRT-1 will just be running 17 trains.

The DOTr said augmentation buses will be dispatched on routes to accommodate commuters who won’t be able to take the trains. These include additional buses on the EDSA Carousel route which can be accessed at the MRT-3 stations at North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, GMA Kamuning, Santolan, Ortigas, and Guadalupe.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) announced it has stopped operations while all its personnel undergo Covid-19 testing.

The PNR said it will resume operations on April 9 with 10 to 12 trains.

Free ride bye-bye

Expect to pay for taking the Skyway 3 sooner than later.

The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), together with an independent consultant, has conducted a Site Acceptance Test (SAT) of the Electronic Toll Collection System (TCS) of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3. The SAT covered the inventory and maintenance of the TCS equipment, Lane Computer System protocols, and Plaza Computer System protocols.

Different test case scenarios were tested, including the processing of exempted vehicle and towed vehicle, as well as the processing of low balance and invalid RFID transaction.

It is interesting to note that the testing was among the first undertakings of newly appointed TRB Executive Director Alvin A. Carullo. A press statement quoted Carullo as saying:“Mahalaga po ang tinatawag na SAT dahil para po masiguro namin na tatakbo ang ating Electronic Toll Collection System ng maayos, mabilis, matiwasay at ligtas para sa ating lahat, specially sa mga toll road users.”

In a separate press statement announcing his appointment, Carullo indicated that he “intends to fast-track ongoing and proposed toll road projects as well as enforce proactive regulation of existing toll roads.” He also said that he intends to take a look at pending applications of toll operators for toll rate increases and ensure that just and reasonable toll rates through a transparent consultative process will be achieved.“Toll rates should not be too low as to be confiscatory nor so high as to be oppressive,” Carullo said.

Electric Lexus

Lexus has unveiled the LF-Z Electrified, a BEV or Battery Electric Vehicle that it says symbolizes the next generation of the brand. Lexus says the LZ-Z Electrified “incorporates driving performance, styling, and technologies envisioned for realization by 2025.”

The year 2025 will see the introduction of 20 new or improved models, including more than 10 electrified models such as BEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles(PHEVs), HEVs or Hybrid Electric Vehicles, says Lexus.

The luxury car brand expects to sell more electrified vehicles that gasoline-powered variants in 2025 when it will offer electric variants of all its models.

Lexus said by 2050, it aims to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the lifecycle of its entire model lineup – from the manufacturing of materials, parts and vehicles, to vehicle logistics, to the final disposal and recycling of older vehicles.

GR Yaris coming

Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) may be helping keep depression at bay with the announcement of the coming of the GR Yaris. This bit of news should certainly lift the spirits of people tired and despondent over the resurgence of the Covid-19.

TMP even has a price that, for some, makes the GR Yaris a very attractive acquisition. Just Php2.65 million.

The announcement of the GR Yaris arrival followed the recent launch of the Vios GR-S, and the announcement of the return of TMP’s premier motorsports and e-motorsports program – Gazoo Racing Vios Cup and GR GT Cup.

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments & inquiries email [email protected] or visit www.motoringtoday.ph.

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