AFTER more than three months of being mothballed since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) struck the country, 6,002 traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJs) were given the green light by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) yesterday to hit the roads again today, Friday, and resume plying an initial 49 routes in Metro Manila.
The 6,002 PUJs is a small percentage of the estimated 55,000 traditional jeepneys registered in Metro Manila. The LTFRB said it will increase the number of units depending on the demand.
LTFRB Memorandum Circular (MC) 2020-026 states that PUJs can resume operations even without special permits.
In lieu of the special permit, a corresponding QR code shall be issued to PUJ operators prior to operation, which must be printed and displayed in the corresponding units. Operators may download the QR codes from the LTFRB website (www.ltfrb.gov.ph).
The LTFRB reminded PUJ operators that only jeepneys registered as roadworthy with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) with valid personal passenger insurance policy can hit the roads again.
It added there will be no fare adjustments despite the limited number of passengers that jeepneys can load. The fare remains at P9 for the first four kilometers and additional P1.50 for succeeding kilometers.
It said jeepneys can only operate at 50 percent seating capacity. Drivers are likewise required to distribute passenger contact forms for contact tracing, in case one of the passengers later test positive of COVID-19.
As a safety measure to ensure no mass transmission of the novel coronavirus, the LTFRB circular says operators and drivers are required to comply with health protocols prior to dispatch and during operations, such as the regular checking of body temperatures, and wearing of facemasks and gloves at all times.
Failure to comply with the conditions will incur penalties from imposition of fines to cancellation or suspension of Certificates of Public Convenience (CPCs) or Provisional Authorities (PAs).
The LTFRB allowed PUJs to ply the following routes: Camarin – Novaliches, Karuhatan – Ugong, Malabon – Monumento via Letre, Malabon – Navotas, and Monumento – Navotas via Letre in the northern portion of the metropolis.
Jeepneys will also already be available in the following routes: Cubao – Proj. 4 via J.P. Rizal, Cubao – San Juan via N. Domingo, IBP Road – Lupang Pangako via Gravel Pit Road, Marikina – Pasig, Pantranco – Proj. 2 and 3 via Kamuning, and Proj. 2 and 3 – Q Mart.
Passengers can also take the jeepneys plying the Sucat-Highway – Bagumbayan, Ayala – Pateros via JP Rizal, Marikina – Pateros via Pasig, A. Boni – A. Mabini via 10th Avenue, A. Bonifacio – D Tuazon/E. Rodriguez Avenue, A. Rivera – Raon via Severino Reyes, Ayala – Mantrade via Pasong Tamo and Ayala – Washington routes.
The LTFRB also opened the following routes: Balic-Balic – Quiapo via Lepanto, Balic-Balic – Bustillos via G. Tuazon, Balic-Balic – Espana/M. Dela Fuente, Balintawak – Frisco, Balut – Blumentritt, Blumentritt – North Harbor via Divisoria, Boni – Kalentong JRC via Boni Avenue, Dian – Libertad, Divisoria – Gastambide via Morayt, Divisoria – Pier North via Plaza Moriones, Divisoria – Quiapo via Evangelista, Evangelista – Libertad, Divisoria – Velasquez, Guadalupe Market – L. Guinto via Pasig Line, L. Guinto – Sta. Ana, Herbosa/Pritil – P. Guevarra via Tayuman, Kalentong/JRC – P. Victorino via P. Cruz, Divisoria – Sta. Cruz via San Nicolas, Kayamanan C – PRC via Pasong Tamo, L. Guinto – Zobel Roxas via Paco, Lardizabal – Rizal Avenue via M. Dela Fuente, and Lealtad – Quiapo (Barbosa) via Lepanto.
There will also be jeepneys plying the Kalentong/JRC – Libertad (Mandaluyong) Nueve de Pebrero, Kalentong/JRC – Namayan via Vergara, North Harbor – Quiapo via Evangelista, P. Faura – San Andres, Quezon Avenue – Sta. Mesa Market via Araneta Avenue, Crame – San Juan via Pinaglabanan, Alabang – Sucat via M.L. Quezon, and Soldiers Hill (Phase IV) – Talon via Alvarez.
Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said the number of operating trains at Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) will be reduced to 10 to 12 trains from the current 16 to 19 trains starting Monday due to the number of maintenance personnel at its depot who are currently on quarantine.
The extent of the operating level reduction (number of reduced trains) will be advised by Sumitomo over the weekend.
DOTr said that out of the 1,700 MRT-3 employees, 127 have tested positive for COVID-19 positive, majority of whom are depot personnel of Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).
“Sumitomo requested to discuss on aday-by-day basis the level of operations that they can sustain as results of the mass swab testing continue to be released. In the meantime, Sumitomo advised that they are able to continue with operations to service MRT-3’s tens of thousands of passengers, although at a reduced level,” said TJ Batan, DOTr undersecretary.
MRT-3 reached its highest GCQ ridership on Monday, carrying 67,821 passengers at its reduced capacity of 13 percent (153 passengers per train, down from 1,182 pre-ECQ).
MRT-3’s Bus Augmentation Program also reached its highest ridership on the same day, carrying 8,835 passengers.
To augment MRT-3’s further reduced capacity due to the quarantine of some of its depot personnel, the DOTr said it will boost its Bus Augmentation Program and EDSA Busway service, in coordination with the DOTr road sector, LTFRB, and MMDA.
Per guidance of the IATF-EID, additional measures and precautions will be taken during MRT-3’s reduced operations, including requiring full PPE for stations and depot personnel, limiting movement of depot personnel to their immediate areas of responsibility, increased disinfection activities, and heightened monitoring and screening of symptoms among all personnel. – With Noel Talacay