DOTr eyes allowing some jeeps to resume operations in Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — Some jeepney drivers may be able to ply Metro Manila roads again weeks after the region shifts to general community quarantine on June 1, the Department of Transportation said on Friday.

DOTr Senior Transport Consultant Bert Suansing told CNN Philippines on Friday that the resumption of mass transport in the country's capital region will have two phases: From June 1 to 21, rails and trains will resume partial operations with additional bus augmentation. The second phase is on June 22 onwards.

In the initial plans of DOTr, modern jeeps will be allowed starting June 22. Suansing said during the second phase, some traditional jeepneys — not all 55,000 jeepney units in Metro Manila — will be allowed to operate in areas that can't be served by buses and modern jeepneys.

"What we see, the buses and modern jeepneys are not enough to serve a route, so what we are doing is also allot some units of traditional jeepneys to run on those routes," he said in a phone interview with New Day.

Thousands of jeepney drivers have been out of work and income for over two months after public transport was banned when Metro Manila and the entire island of Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In the second phase, DOTr said public utility buses and UV Express will also be allowed to operate with limited passenger capacity.

As Metro Manila eases into a more relaxed general community quarantine on June 1, LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3 can resume operations with 10% to 12% of its previous passenger capacity to ensure physical distancing, while the PNR will be on 35% capacity. Because this will not be enough to service all workers returning to work, Suansing said 100 buses will be deployed to augment the trips that cannot be accommodated by these railway services.

Aside from this, shuttles of private companies, transport network vehicle services such as GrabCar, taxis, tricycles, and point-to-point buses will be allowed to go back on the roads.

Meanwhile, tricycles will also be allowed subject to the prior approval of local government units. Backrides in motorcycles — even if the passengers are couples, remain prohibited in GCQ areas.

"Violation talaga siya ng physical distancing and siguro po wine-weigh nila yung pros and cons at sa ngayon, hindi pa po pwede kahit sino po. Kahit pulis, hindi dapat nag-angkasan. So isa lang po ang pwedeng sasakay sa motorsiklo sa ngayon," Joint Task Force COVID-19 Shield Commander PLt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said.

The Bureau of Immigration said flights will remain limited despite relaxed quarantine rules. It said all foreigners can leave anytime, but Filipinos are still not allowed to leave unless they are OFWs, permanent residents, or holders of student visa in their country of destination.

President Rodrigo Duterte announced that Metro Manila will transition from modified enhanced community to general community quarantine on June 1. Under GCQ, public transportation are allowed to resume operations under limited capacity.