Passenger jeepney (PNA photo by Joey O. Razon)

MANILA – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is set to recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) an increase in passenger capacity in public utility vehicles (PUVs) in the National Capital Region following the downgrade of the alert level status.

In a press briefing Monday, DOTr Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor said they would recommend increasing the capacity to cope up with the increased number of individuals using public transport.

The current maximum passenger capacity is 50 percent.

From Alert Level 4, the quarantine status in the NCR was downgraded to the more relaxed Alert Level 3 starting October 16 until October 31.

“Tinitignan natin na magtaas ng seating capacity sa public transportation. Bilang tugon sa lumalaking gastusin sa day-to-day operations ng ating operators, and at the same time, this will also address 'yung matagal na hinihiling ng ating mga kasamahan sa business sector na dapat mas mapalago ang economic activities (We are looking at increasing the seating capacity in public transportation in response to the growing expenses of day-to-day operations of our operators. This will also address the long-time request of the business sector to broaden economic activities). We can contribute to that through an increase in public transportation, and their capacity,” Pastor said.

Pastor said the increase in passenger capacity will be "significant" and assured that the proposal to be submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) would be based on both technical and medical studies.

“The increase will be significant. I cannot give the exact figure at this point in time. Sa puntong ito ay inaaral po natin itong mabuti at kumukuha po kami ng relevant data from studies and journals to back up this proposed increase para matulungan po natin ang mga operators and drivers (At this point we are studying very well and we are getting relevant data from studies and journals to back up this proposed increase so that we can help our operators and drivers),” he said.

He said the department would also consider the safety protocols existing in the affected local government units.

Pastor said that in the meantime, the DOTr would continue monitoring the passenger capacity in PUVs amid the pandemic. (PR)