In addition to the cash aid that the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will be handing out to PUV drivers, the agency also wants to help these people cope with the rising fuel prices by increasing the PUV passenger capacity in the metro.
During a recent Senate hearing, assistant secretary Mark Steven Pastor confirmed that the DOTr has already submitted a proposal to allow PUVs in Metro Manila to operate at full capacity.
The agency presented several arguments, one of which is this: “Studies have shown that reliance on complete face mask use and partial hand sanitizer use was proven enough to contain three very modest COVID-19 waves while preserving normal bus services.
“Other studies have also revealed that passengers in the high-risk zones (seats in the same row with an infected passenger and within three rows) had moderate but not significantly higher risks and that ‘rigid’ safe distancing rules are an oversimplification based on outdated science and experiences of past viruses.”
The DOTr also mentioned that Metro Manila is “the ideal place to test the proposal” since 81.4% of the population is already fully-vaccinated and because public utility jeepneys in the capital are well-ventilated.
Senator Nancy Binay, however, said that it doesn’t seem like the current 50% capacity is being followed anymore. “The other week, nagpunta tayo sa Antipolo. Yung mga kasabay ho naming dyip sa daan, more than 50% na yung binabiyahe nila ngayon,” she said. “So yung hinihingi niyong permission sa IATF, kumbaga passe na yan kasi on the ground, eh punuan na yung mga jeep natin ngayon.”
Pastor responded by saying the agency has already submitted its recommendation and will defend this to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Thursday, October 28.
“We are ready to defend our position to the IATF,” said Pastor. “Alam naman natin na mayroon pa rin tayong dapat idulog sa IATF dahil this is not only a matter of public transportation but also a matter of public health.”
So, cash aid and increased passenger capacity in lieu of a fare hike—what do you guys think about all this? Share your thoughts in the comments.