Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday called on the Department of Transportation to allow more traditional buses and jeepneys to operate in Metro Manila and provincial routes as commuting demand increases with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Increasing available public transportation capacity can help prevent another surge in COVID-19 cases, Hontiveros said. Buses, trains, taxis and shuttles can fill up 70% of seats under Alert Level 2.
The move will also reduce the long lines and waiting time in terminals as well as cut the number of private cars clogging the streets, she added.
Hontiveros said her proposal could be done on a provisional basis without derailing the PUV Modernization Program to ensure the safety of passengers.
"Ang siksikang pampublikong transportasyon ay COVID superspreader. Kaya panahon na para payagan muna uli ng DOTr na bumyahe ang mga traditional buses at jeepneys at magbukas ng mga bagong ruta, lalo pa at inaasahang mas marami na ang mga commuters,” she said.
Metro Manila recently shifted to Alert Level 2 as nationwide COVID-19 cases continue to decline, allowing minors to go out of their homes and take public transportation. Curfew hours have also been lifted in the capital region.
While the decline in COVID-19 cases is welcome development, Hontiveros said the public should not be too complacent.
"Kailangang matiyak na may sapat na bilang ng pumapasadang jeep, bus at UV express para ligtas, hindi nagsisiksikan, at may physical distancing pa rin para maiwasan ang pagkalat muli ng virus," she said.
“Ituloy natin ang strict implementation ng health protocols lalo na't hindi pa nagsisimula ang pagbabakuna ng booster shots," she added.