The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announces its push for efficient public transportation systems as the country transitions to a new normal amid the pandemic.
With the Philippines under lockdown since March 2020, mass transport has been limited. Public utility vehicles have been operating at lesser capacity to make sure social distancing protocols are being followed.
In a virtual public transport forum on May 25, DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor shared DOTr’s push for reforms and improvements in the sector.
In Metro Manila, innovative mass transport projects are being pushed like the EDSA Busway, a free bus rapid transit system along the highway. With the EDSA Busway, the DOTr aims to reduce travel time by bus for commuters from Monumento to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) and vice versa by about an hour from the previous three hours.
Complementing the busway is the EDSA Busway Concourse, which will provide commuters, especially the elderly, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women with safe transport hubs. Planned for locations at the SM Mall of Asia, SM North EDSA, and SM Megamall, the concourse will also provide safe walkways for commuters.
Meanwhile in Cebu, Pastor said several bus rapid transit lines are in various stages of implementation. In Davao City, the Davao High Priority Bus System aims to provide an efficient and safe public transport system supporting local economic growth and provide residents with improved mobility.
As more cyclists occupy the road, more dedicated bicycle lanes are being created together with government agencies and the private sector. 535 kilometers of bike lanes are set for completion in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao in June.
The DOTr also continues to promote active transport like cycling with the launch of a Bike Manual. This manual is made to educate cyclists, motorists, pedestrians, and other road users about road safety, road courtesy, road sharing, and road etiquette.
According to Pastor, the DOTr’s budget request for 2022 includes the proposal of the expansion of the bike lane network.
Free rides for healthcare workers, APORs
Since last year, DOTr launched the Libreng Sakay program that provided transport for healthcare frontliners and Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs). The free ride program has served 2.3 million person-trips for healthcare workers and 5.5 million person-trips for APORs.
The initiative also complements the Service Contracting Program benefitting drivers, operators, and other workers in the transport sector affected by the pandemic.
Also part of these plans, Pastor said, is the DOTr’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP), which aims to replace older PUVs from the streets with more modern vehicles.