Despite the increased number of buses, return of modern jeepneys, as well as additional taxis and transport network vehicle service (TNVS) units plying the roads, commuters still had a hard time during the first day of the second phase of the public transport resumption scheme initiated by government.
Because all forms of land transportation must operate at reduced capacity, hundreds endured long lines and extended wait times in addition to the usual morning rush traffic, especially for those reliant on public transportation.
Long lines greet Monday morning commuters
As early as 4 a.m. today, commuters have flocked Quirino Highway in Fairview, where some buses in the new Angat-Quezon Avenue route are waiting for passengers. Only 29 passengers are allowed to board each bus and temperature checks are mandatory.
At Commonwealth Avenue, in Litex, hundreds waited for buses but were dismayed to find out that these buses can take them only until at Quezon Ave. Most boarded anyway, expecting to hop on to other modes of transport to continue their journey. Because of strict health protocols, bus conductors are mandated to do temperature checks for every passenger before boarding.
At LRT 1 Monumento station, lines formed as early as 3am. Commuters say they had to resort to this to make sure that they can catch the first train. Those who can’t make it must contend with limited buses or the more expensive TNVS or taxis.
In Manila, 30 modern jeeps of the Pandacan-Leon Guinto route have returned to service today. Passengers are seated one seat apart and are using tap cards to pay the fare. Each card costs P120, pre-loaded with P50.
Buses are also now back in service, plying 30 of the 31 rationalized city bus routes determined by government, down from 96 before the pandemic. Soon to open is Route No. 10 that plies from Cubao in Quezon City to Doroteo Jose, Manila.
According to MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago, city buses replaced traditional jeepneys on some routes. Around 3,400 city buses resumed operations today, adding to the 1,200 units that already returned during Phase One of the public transport resumption from June 1 to 21.
For provincial buses, the LTFRB and Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) are closely studying the resumption of operations following guidelines set by the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID shield.
Back-riding may also be allowed soon, pending health and safety protocols that will be determined by the IATF.
Modern jeeps return, UV express to follow
Modern jeepneys returned to Metro Manila roads today in accordance with Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-023 dated June 19.
The LTFRB determined 15 rationalized routes in Metro Manila and allowed 308 modern jeepneys to serve passengers. These modern jeeps are compliant with the agency’s Omnibus Franchising Guidelines (OFG). More routes are set to open within the week, nine on June 24 and another 10 on June 26.
Modern jeepney operators have complied with OFG regulations and have consolidated themselves as legal entities in accordance with the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP). Under the new rules, modern jeeps are required to use cashless payments and each unit can only accommodate up to 50 percent of seating capacity. Fare rates are set at P11 for the first four kilometers and P1.80 aircon/P1.50 non-aircon per succeeding kilometer.
“The resumption of PUJ operations in 15 routes in Metro Manila is part of our calibrated response to restore mass transportation in Metro Manila and in the adjacent provinces as we transition into the new normal, taking into consideration the strict health protocols being enforced to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” shares LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III.
After the resumption of buses and modern jeepneys, UV Express units will be allowed within the month, once the LTFRB “fleshes out the intricacies of formulating the guidelines for the resumption of their operations.”
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