ICYMI: LTO-accredited driving schools, QR codes for shuttles, COVID-19 test centers

This week’s news ahead of the scheduled return to GCQ
by TopGear.com.ph | Aug 16, 2020
PHOTO: Google Maps, NLEX Corporation, Wikimedia Commons, Office of the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines

COVID-19 testing locations are now available on Google Maps

“Google’s navigation app is continuously growing its list of COVID-19 centers to keep Filipinos updated on where to go for testing in case the need arises. To access Google Maps’ list of coronavirus testing centers, just type in ‘COVID testing’ in the Google search bar or on Google Maps on your browser or smartphone.

“‘Every day, Filipinos use Google Maps to find out more about the locations that matter to them, and we hope that we can help by constantly updating our platforms with real-time locally relevant and credible information,’ Google Philippines country director Bernadette Nacario said.

“As some hospitals or centers may not have the capacity to cater to patients at the moment, Google Philippines recommends using Department of Health (DOH) resources—such as the DOH Screening Tool on the agency’s official website or the DOH hotline (02 8942-6843)—before actually heading to one of the facilities listed on Google Maps.”

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Halfway there: SFEX expansion project is now 50% complete

“In a statement, the NLEX Corporation shared that the Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX) expansion is now 50% complete, and said it is expecting work to be done by the end of the year. Once completed, the project will add two new expressway lanes, two new spans across the Jadjad and Argonaut bridges, and a new tunnel. New LED lights will also be installed to improve nighttime visibility along the thoroughfare.

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“The undertaking has a P1.6-billion budget. According to NLEX Corporation president and general manager Luigi Bautista, travel to and from Subic and its surrounding provinces will be made more convenient once the expansion is finished.

“‘By increasing the road capacity of SFEX, which traverses the provinces of Bataan and Zambales, transport of goods in and out of the Subic Freeport will be faster and easier,’ Bautista said in a statement.

“‘This would also mean that the expressway can accommodate more motorists at a given time.’

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“The SFEX expansion project began in September last year, but construction came to a halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country earlier in 2020. It was originally scheduled to be finished this September. Work resumed in mid-May, and the NLEX Corporation says it is poised to help Subic maintain its position as a prime business and leisure hub.”

Did your student permit expire under MECQ? Don’t worry about it just yet

“Student driver permits that expired during the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) will still be valid until transport regulators resume office operations, the Land Transportation Office has confirmed.

“Those living in enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) areas whose students permits have also expired are covered by this extension as well. The ECQ and MECQ are the two highest classifications in the country’s four-step quarantine system.”

Contactless is the way to go

“Following the reimplementation of MECQ in Metro Manila, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) has again rolled out its free shuttle services for frontline workers, a service that it first made available back in March. Now, the OVP aims to improve its transport services even further with the launch of its new contactless boarding system.

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“Through this new system, frontliners can sign up to receive a QR code that can then be used to log their information whenever they board the OVP’s shuttle service. The code cannot be used for booking rides and reserving seats, but it eliminates the process of having to write down information on log sheets, thus reducing contact.

“The QR codes will only be generated once, and passengers need not sign up for a new code each time around—they only need to present their codes to the facilitators prior to boarding the shuttles. To request for a QR code, frontliners can register here.”

Here are LTO’s accredited driving schools for those applying for a driver’s license

“In case you missed it, the days when you could learn to operate a vehicle free of charge from a parent, friend, or family driver is long gone, because a certificate of course completion from a driving school accredited by the LTO is now a requirement for prospective motorists.

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“Under the agency’s new guidelines, student-drivers applying for either a professional or non-professional license must complete a 15-hour theoretical driving course and an eight-hour practical driving course from an LTO-accredited establishment.

“According to Memorandum Circular No. 2019-2176, ‘Student-drivers permit shall only be issued upon completion of a mandatory theoretical driving course to be conducted by LTO or its duly accredited driving schools for at least 15 hours and shall be completed within two years from the start of the course.’ You can read more about these changes here.

“Below is a full list of driving schools with LTO accreditation across the Philippines posted on the agency’s official Facebook page:”

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The Medical City now offers drive-through swab testing

We know it’s a lot of words: The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction is better known as the RT-PCR swab type of testing for COVID-19—and even better known as the gold standard for confirming whether or not you have the disease. In case you ever need it, The Medical City–Ortigas (TMC) in Pasig City added this type of test to its drive-through services on August 14.

“The COVID testing site is located at the Basement 1 Exit along MD Camacho Road. It is available from Mondays to Sundays, 8am to 5pm. The procedure is strictly by appointment only, so you should call 8988-1000 ext. 3300 to confirm an available date and time.

“According to the hospital’s website, the RT-PCR swab test costs P6,000, and results will be sent through email within two to three days. Each vehicle is allowed a maximum of six individuals to be tested.”

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PNP-HPG lane: EDSA should have a car-free motorcycle lane

“With the dramatic upsurge in the number of motorbikes plying EDSA, the Philippine National Police–Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) has come up with new recommendations that it hopes will reduce the number of motorcycle-related accidents and ease traffic on this major thoroughfare.

“PNP-HPG director Brig. Gen. Eliseo Cruz says the previous motorcycle lane set up by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on EDSA seems not enough to maintain a smooth flow of traffic and prevent accidents. He estimates that 20% of the total vehicles now passing through EDSA are two-wheelers, and considering the continuous upward trend of motorbike sales in the country, he believes it won’t take long for bikes to dominate this 23km stretch that traverses six cities.

“In fact, Cruz says the number of newly purchased motorcycles applying for HPG vehicle clearance at Camp Crame can reach 10,000 per day, while for newly acquired vehicles, the average is 500 to 1,000 units.

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“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the EDSA motorcycle lane had been temporarily discarded by the MMDA when it established an exclusive lane for passenger buses transporting medical frontlines and essential workers under the prevailing health crisis.

“Based on Cruz’s suggestion, if a new motorcycle lane were to be put up, no four-wheeled vehicles would be allowed to stray into this lane. Motorcycles would also be confined to this area.”

Heads up: Candaba Viaduct along NLEX is currently being rehabilitated

“Motorists who regularly ply the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) are going to want to listen up: NLEX management is telling everyone to expect slower Manila-bound travel until December this year while the Candaba Viaduct construction is ongoing. The project will be done by the end of the year.

“The Manila-bound side of the 5km-long bridge will be undergoing rehabilitation to improve road safety and the structure’s serviceability. Concrete slabs along the viaduct will be replaced in order to restore the driving experience along it, the NLEX Corporation explained in a statement, adding that ‘the unabated passage of overloaded trucks have permanently damaged several Candaba Viaduct link slabs.’

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“While this is happening, motorists in cars, buses, small trucks, and vans will be asked to slow down and drive onto a 31-meter fabricated steel bridge to cross over the construction site. Cargo trucks, meanwhile, must counterflow on the northbound side of the expressway, while 12-wheelers will be rerouted to MacArthur Highway before re-entering NLEX via Pulilan, Santa Rita, or Tabang. Patrol crews and traffic enforcers will be deployed to maintain order.”

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PHOTO: Google Maps, NLEX Corporation, Wikimedia Commons, Office of the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines
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