“We’ve now entered enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Greater Manila (or more awkwardly known as ‘NCR Plus’). Again. It feels like we’re back to square one after more than a year into this pandemic. Anyway...
“The government has already announced the preliminary guidelines for travel and business operations, as well as the authorized persons outside their residence (APORs), during this period. You can read more about that in this previous story.
“Now, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has released the full guidelines on the operation of public transport—for the road, rail, air, and maritime sectors—within Greater Manila.
“First, trains can only carry up to 30% of their capacities, or up to 370 passengers for LRT-1, 274 for LRT-2, 372 for MRT-3, and 310 for PNR. The temporary closures of these rail lines during Holy Week will still push through as well, but the PNR will run its Calamba-Tutuban route on April 1.
“Public utility buses (PUBs) and jeepneys (PUJs), meanwhile, will only be allowed to ferry up to 50% of their total capacities, excluding the driver and passenger. A ‘one seat apart’ rule will be enforced and no standing passengers will be allowed for all vehicles.”
“Malls in the greater Manila area will adjust their operating hours starting Monday, March 29, in adherence to the implementation of the week-long enhanced community quarantine or ECQ.
“The fresh ECQ restrictions—which will last until Easter Sunday, April 4—cover Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal.”
Here’s your mall guide during the ECQ period:
“SM Supermalls said only essential stores in SM malls in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal would remain open from March 29 to April 4, from 10am to 5pm.
This includes supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, hardware stores, and restaurants that offer takeout and delivery. Free parking will also be available during the ECQ period.”
“Robinsons Malls in NCR, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna will implement a 10am to 5pm operating schedule from March 29 to April 4. Supermarket hours are from 7am to 6pm.
“Only essential stores will be open during the ECQ period, it said. These are banks, hardware stores, convenience stores, select restaurants with takeout and delivery services, and other essentials. Free parking will be available during the ECQ period.”
“From March 29 to April 4, Ayala Malls said only supermarkets, drug stores, banks, and restaurants with takeout and delivery services will be available in their malls in Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, and Bulacan areas. Parking will be free during the ECQ period.”
“Greater Manila is already under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), and as expected, there have been concerns regarding the availability of public transport especially for essential workers.
“To help address the situation, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is rolling out free rides for authorized persons outside of residence (APORs) through the agency’s service contracting program.
“There will be 44 modern jeepney routes covering Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal to provide free rides to APORs until April 4, 2021. Participating modern PUVs in these areas will be marked accordingly.
“To avail of the free rides, APORs need only present their IDs. For the full list of APORs, you can check out the LTFRB’s official link. And for the complete list of available routes, read on below. Meanwhile, if you want to read about the current ECQ guidelines on public transport, click these blue words.”
“It looks like newly appointed Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) executive director Alvin Carullo is making it a point to hear out all sides as the agency looks into proposed toll rate increases.
“In a statement, Carullo—who is two weeks fresh from being appointed TRB executive director by President Rodrigo Duterte—said that he will be studying applications for toll increases and expects to strike a balance between rates proposed by operators and the welfare of Filipino motorists.
“‘Toll rates should not be too low as to be confiscatory nor so high as to be oppressive,’ Carullo stressed, also saying the TRB’s consultation process will remain transparent.
“Carullo also shared that the TRB needs to be more proactive when it comes to toll regulations and that the agency needs to expedite the development and construction of Philippine toll projects. He also bared that the TRB will undergo manpower augmentation to ensure the agency fulfills its functions efficiently, and that the agency must rely on the professionalism of its employees if it wants to fulfill its mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“‘To our TRB officials and staff, I expect your full support and cooperation. The TRB plays a vital role in our transportation infrastructure system and should be a catalyst for economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic,’ Carullo said.”
“The required use of personal protective equipment at public transportation terminals isn’t just for show. Remember: Being out in public spaces is risky business during the COVID-19 pandemic, as carriers don’t necessarily need to be coughing their lungs out to spread the virus.
“Case in point? The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced that 12 tellers and one cash assistant working at the Ortigas, Santolan, and Cubao MRT-3 stations have tested positive for COVID-19. Following contact-tracing procedures, close contacts of personnel who tested positive are now under quarantine and awaiting swab-test results, and 114 other employees are now awaiting test results.
“The DOTr also said it is taking the MRT-3’s temporary Holy Week closure as an opportunity to conduct swab testing for other exposed personnel. This is to ensure the train line is ready to resume operations on April 5.”
“Good news for authorized persons outside of residence (APOR) who have to drive north during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ): The NLEX Corporation has announced that the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) will remain open 24/7 during ECQ, albeit with limited toll-plaza capacity and reduced manpower.
“The Balintawak, Bocaue, and Mindanao toll plazas, for example, will operate at 50% to 60% capacity. Only 60% to 70% of the company’s toll and traffic operations personnel will be deployed, too.
“Disinfection operations have also been intensified at fuel stations, toll booths, and other NLEX and SCTEX facilities. In addition, the operator is offering a free 24-hour towing service for Class 1 vehicles available from 6am on March 31 until 6am on April 5.
“In a statement, the operator said that these measures come not just in a bid to protect motorists during ECQ, but to ensure the safety of NLEX and SCTEX employees as well.”
“According to the DOTr, the test covered the inventory and maintenance of the toll collection equipment, Lane Computer System and Plaza Computer System protocols.
“Different scenarios were reportedly tested, such as the screening of exempted and towed vehicles, as well as the processing of low balance and invalid RFID transactions, among others.
“Since the Skyway Stage 3 opened in December 2020, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president and CEO Ramon S. Ang said passage to motorists would be free. The 18.83km elevated expressway connects Buendia, Makati City, to the North Luzon Expressway in Balintawak, Quezon City, cutting travel time from 2 hours to just 15 to 20 minutes.
“‘Mahalaga po ang tinatawag na SAT dahil para po masiguro namin na tatakbo ang ating Electronic Toll Collection System nang maayos, mabilis, matiwasay, at ligtas para sa ating lahat, especially sa mga toll road users,’ said Toll Regulatory Board executive director Alvin Carullo.
“‘Ibig sabihin po, dapat tama po ’yung mga toll rate, tapos po dapat mabilis ang pagbasa sa RFID tags kasi importante ito para maiwasan po ’yung paghaba ng pila sa mga toll plaza at tsaka ang pagkumpul-kumpol ng mga sasakyan,’ he added.
“Officials have yet to release the final toll rate for Skyway Stage 3.”