DOTr increases public transport passenger capacity to 70 percent


The Department of Transportation (DOTr) hopes to succeed in running the “pilot test” of the increase in seating capacity in public-utility vehicles (PUVs) and trains within the next month, as it hopes to bring the sector back to pre-pandemic operations.

At news briefing, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor said the 70 percent cap for public transport—buses, jeepneys, and trains—will only run for 30 days in Metro Manila.

After that, a reckoning period shall commence, wherein the government will evaluate if the increase in public transport capacity was warranted and did not result in a spike in Covid-19 cases.

“There will be an evaluation after 30 days if the increase was effective. We will recommend to further increase the capacity to 100 percent [if we are able to prove that the increase did not result in a spike in cases],” he said.

To recall, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has approved the recommendation of the transport agency to implement the gradual increase in passenger capacity in public transportation, including road and railway systems for one month until they reach full capacity.

The implementation of this new policy starts today, Thursday.

“Studies have shown that only 0.2 percent of traceable outbreaks in Germany were linked to transport; only 1.2 percent of Covid-19 clusters are linked to transport—land, air, and sea; and that there is only a 0.01 percent chance of contracting Covid-19 in public transportation, with the probability decreasing to 0.005 percent risk of infection with face covering,” Transportation Undersecretary for Railways Timothy Batan explained.

According to Transportation Assistant Secretary for Communication Goddes Hope Libiran, the increase in transport capacity in Metro Manila is anchored on the vaccination statistics of the metropolis, which is at over 80 percent, and the easing of quarantine restrictions.

She added that this initiative will help drivers and operators recover from the negative effects of the pandemic.

Jeepneys and buses may also remove the plastic barriers that were earlier mandated to reduce the risk of transmission. However, physical distancing and health and safety protocols are still required to be implemented.

“We want to ensure that this pilot implementation will be smooth sailing because we really want to increase the seating capacity—if we are able to prove that this will not result in a spike in Covid cases,” Pastor said.

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