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Transport and Commuting During GCQ, Explained

Here's a quick rundown of how commuting will be like starting June 1.
by Clara Rosales
May 29, 2020
Photo/s: Jerome Ascaño

Transport services will resume operations once the majority of the country shifts to general community quarantine (GCQ) on June 1. To prepare for the return of commuters, the Department of Transportation released guidelines for the different transport systems.

You would by now that COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, and it’s affected even the way you get from one place to another. Several adjustments have been made to prevent the further spread of the virus, and it’s likely that some of these changes will be the norm. Here’s what you need to know before you head out:

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The two phases

Phase 1

From June 1 to 21, trains and buses are allowed to resume operations. Taxis and Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) like Grab will also be allowed. Shuttle services and Point-to-Point (P2P) buses can also operate. Do take note that these vehicles will operate on limited capacity, which means it will carry less passengers.

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Bicycles can also take major roads. During this first phase, provincial buses are prohibited from entering Metro Manila.

Phase 2

From June 22 to 30, public utility buses and modern public utility vehicles can ply the roads again. UV Expresses will also be allowed during this phase.

What are the major changes? 

If you’re looking to renew your license or register your car, the government urges you to do all those transactions online

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According to DOTr, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) will implement the Public Transport Online Processing System (PTOPS) on June 1, which will allow said transactions to be made online.

There will also be rationalized routes for better traffic management, industry consolidation to make it more efficient and tenable for tenable stakeholders, and use of shuttle services for employees and students to get people to places while preventing the spread of the virus. 

The government is also promoting the use of bicycles so individuals can maintain social distance, get to where they need to be, and decongest the roads.

Handing bills and coins can spread COVID-19 quicker, so all your payments will have to be done digitally. Cashless transactions will be common under GCQ, and this comes in the form of automatic fare collections and electronic toll collections. GNSS and GPS will also get a push from DOTr. 

Earlier, the DOTr was eyeing dedicated road lanes for buses and bikes, and it looks like it will happen in GCQ.

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Health guidelines

Passengers and personnel are required to wear face masks at all times and must undergo thermal scans. There will be designated disinfecting facilities for handwashing in train stations, and alcohol and sanitizers will be made available in public utility vehicles.

High-touch areas such as handles, seats, and headrests should be disinfected frequently. For trains, carriages will be disinfected twice during every trip.

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To avoid the spread of infection, cashless payments will be the norm to help riders and drivers avoid contact.

Fewer passengers

Public utility vehicles such as buses, UV Express, and jeepneys will carry less people as passengers must sit one seat apart. Seatmates are not allowed.

Taxis and TNVS are only allowed to carry a maximum of three passengers. The passengers at the second row must sit next to the rear windows of the vehicle.

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Meanwhile, trains will have markers to inform passengers where they can sit or stand. Only about 153 commuters can ride the train during a trip.

Tricycles are allowed to carry only one passenger

A non-permeable transparent barrier must separate the passengers and the drivers.

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