SPACED OUT. Passengers practice physical distancing inside a traditional public utility jeepney that has plastic barriers set up to curb the spread of the coronavirus. With the reopening of public transport services during the GCQ, passengers are reminded to wear face mask and shield. (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – The railways sector and operators of various public utility vehicles, including UV express units, taxis, buses, modern and traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) have expressed readiness to serve commuters once Metro Manila shifts to general community quarantine (GCQ).

With Metro Manila shifting to a GCQ status, the MRT-3 line is ready to dispatch 16 Czech-built CKD train sets and two China-built Dalian train sets on a daily basis.

The LRT-1 line will dispatch on weekdays 24 train sets for the morning peak hours, 18 train sets for the off-peak hours, and 24 train sets during the afternoon peak hours.

On a daily basis, the LRT Line 2 will be deploying five train sets and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) is ready to deploy 10 train sets.

To complement the train services which will be on limited capacity to conform to the physical distancing measure, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has authorized the operation of additional traditional PUJs and UV Express (UVE) vehicle units.

For traditional PUJs, the LTFRB has allowed the operation of additional 4,498 units in 60 routes. This is on top of the 7,945 authorized units in 66 routes as of July 29, and thus brings the total number of authorized traditional PUJs to 12,443 in 126 routes.

An additional four routes with 641 units have been authorized for UV Express, which totals to 1,621 the number of authorized UVEs in 51 routes to hit the Metro streets once GCQ is enforced.

There will also be 3,662 public utility buses that will help ferry commuters in 31 routes across Metro Manila.

In addition, 716 modern PUJS will be operating in 45 routes; 364 units for Point-to-Point (P2P) buses in 33 routes; 20,493 taxis will be available to transport passengers; and 23,776 transport network vehicle service (TNVS) units will ply the Metro.

With the reopening of public transportation services during the GCQ, the DOTr reminds passengers that strict health and safety protocols will be enforced to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Commuters are reminded that the “no face mask and no face shield, no ride” policy will be strictly enforced in all sectors of public transportation — road, railways, maritime and aviation — as mandated by DOTr and which has been effective since Aug. 15 in areas where public transport is allowed.

Strict physical distancing will also be implemented onboard public utility vehicles, terminals, in rail line facilities, and aboard trains to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

Passengers must follow the marking in PUV terminals, stations, and onboard PUVs and trains. Train marshals and law enforcers will guide and ensure that the protocols are being observed.

Commuters are also encouraged to practice regular sanitation and disinfection procedures, using footbaths, available wash stations, and hand sanitation supplies.

Passengers will also have to accomplish contact tracing and health declaration forms before entering the rail stations and terminals.

All passengers will have to undergo body temperature checks before entering the terminal and stations, as well as boarding vehicles and trains.

For the MRT-3, LRT Line 2, and PNR, passengers with a body temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius and above will not be allowed to enter the rail station, while for LRT1, the threshold is 37.6 degrees Celsius.

At the PNR, the strict health checks will be enforced in its stations and trains. Once inside the station, passengers will proceed to a sanitation station and their body temperature will be checked using a CCTV-based mass thermal scanner.

All passengers are enjoined to refrain from talking and using cell phones and other communications device while inside the train to avoid the spread of respiratory droplets which may carry the virus.

To help protect the health of the riding public, strict health and safety measures are being implemented by transport authorities such as the wearing of full personal protective equipment for front-line employees; disinfection of trains at every half-loop, and of vehicle units after every trip or every two hours; disinfection of frequently touched surfaces in stations and terminals, and onboard trains and PUV units; and encouraging the use of contactless/online payment systems.

At the rail lines, employees will also have to undergo Covid-19 testing before returning to work. The management will also be conducting daily symptom check and immediately place in quarantine employees who show any Covid-19 symptoms. (DOTr PR)