DOTr, LTFRB looking into implementing Metro Manila ‘transportation bubble’

Will this help keep COVID-19 at bay?
Aug 19, 2021
PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

It looks like authorities have come up with another game plan to keep commuters safe from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier today, presidential adviser Joey Concepcion bared that he recently met with Department of Transportation (DOTr) head Arthur Tugade to discuss implementing a Metro Manila ‘transportation bubble.’

Essentially, this is a bus line exclusive to fully-vaccinated individuals, separate from unvaccinated commuters. The hope is that this setup will reduce the transmission of COVID-19 among public transportation users.

“Currently, when fully-vaccinated individuals leave their homes, they commute alongside unvaccinated passengers, hence letting their guard down. With the regular buses, both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are at risk to each other,” Concepcion wrote in his column for the Philippine Star.

“We do not want a scenario wherein we just simply let the vaccinated individuals interact with those who are unvaccinated given the current threat from the Delta variant,” he added.

According to Concepcion, Tugade and the DOTr have expressed their willingness to support this initiative, saying the agency has already asked him if the government can spare 40,000 vaccine doses for potential transportation bubble bus drivers.

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The DOTr has already confirmed that it is studying the idea with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). In a press conference, however, Malacañang Palace implied that a transportation bubble can only be implemented once at least half of Metro Manila’s population has been vaccinated.

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“We appreciate the suggestion po. Pero siguro pagusapan natin ’yan pag meron na po tayo population protection. Kasi ngayon po, papunta pa lang tayo sa population protection na 50%. Siguro po pag naabot na natin ang 50% pwede na nating pagusapan ’yan,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

“Pero sa ngayon po, minorya pa lang po ang fully vaccinated. Sandali na lang po ito no. Siguro after this week ay maaabot na ng Metro Manila ang 50% at meron na tayong kahit papaanong population protection. We can then explore how we can resume normal life given na kalahati ng populasyon ng Metro Manila ay bakunado na.”

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What do you think of separating vaccinated from unvaccinated commuters? Will this help keep the country’s public transportation users safe from COVID-19?

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PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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