ICYMI: Scooter speeding on Cavitex, Pasig River rehab, free LTO theoretical driving course

Snapshots of this week’s motoring news landscape
by TopGear.com.ph | Sep 6, 2020
PHOTO: DPWH, LTO, San Miguel Corporation, Jefferson Conejos on Facebook

Check out the scenic, newly opened Sorsogon Coastal Road

“Great news for motorists from way down south: The Sorsogon City Coastal Road is now open.

“This new 5.52km road is considered one of the biggest projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in the Bicol Region. The four-lane thoroughfare consists of a rock causeway and three bridges, and connects the Daang Maharlika junction to the barangays of Pangpang, Tugos, Cambaluga, and Talisay in Sorsogon City. The road also traverses other barangays such as Sirangan, Sampaloc, and Balogo.

Rafael Yabut, DPWH senior undersecretary for Luzon operations, said that the road will also provide protection to the areas around Sorsogon City from storm surges that usually pass through the region. You can check out the official announcement here.”

Pasig City does it again

“Recently, Pasig City traffic enforcers cracked down on taxi drivers and tricycle operators out on the road without face shields. In case you aren’t aware, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)—including face shields—is now required on board all modes of public transportation. There’s a twist here, though, as instead of handing out fines to the violators, the authorities gave out PPEs instead.

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“Some users, noticing that the enforcers in the photos weren’t wearing the PPE themselves, pointed out that they should wear face shields to set an example. Mayor Sotto, though, clarified that the use of face shields is not required in open spaces and that it may keep the traffic enforcers from effectively doing their job.”

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No TRO granted against ‘doble plaka’

“The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has denied the petition filed by Justitia Lex Machina (JLM) for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the Republic Act No. 11235, or the ‘doble plaka’ law. Judge Luisito Cortez penned the decision on August 12, 2020.

“The court ruled that a TRO is not necessary at this time after Galvante suspended the implementation of the plate provisions in the law because of the unavailability of motorcycle license plates and decals: ‘There being no urgency and the paramount necessity to issue the injunctive relief to prevent any serious damage to herein petitioners, the application for TRO must necessarily fail.’

“JLM, led by the group’s representative Atty. Gally Angeles and legal counsel Atty. Rolly Abing, was advised by Judge Cortez to prepare for the next series of hearings.

Nag-hearing na lang kami sa main case, the nullification of the law. It’s the turn of the OSG (Office of the Solicitor General) to present evidence,’ Abing said. JLM wants the law nullified not just because of the safety issues surrounding the installation of front metal plates, but also because of the potential hefty penalties and jail term that await violators.

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“The OSG lawyers are next scheduled to present their witnesses on September 24 and October 22 via a Zoom conference.”

The MMDA has this to say to a luxury car group...

“Recently, a Facebook page by the name of Luxury Cars Manila went viral for all the wrong reasons. In a post that, by the looks of it, has since been deleted, the page—which claims to be ‘the premier luxury automotive brokerage house in the metro’ with a team that has ‘100+ years of experience in the automotive industry’—griped about local transport authorities’ move to make EDSA’s inner lanes exclusive to public buses and emergency vehicles.

“‘A wise man once said ‘sacrifice the few for the good of the many.’ Pinoy style is ‘sacrifice the many for the good of a few,’” the post read, accompanied by an image of motorists suffering in traffic while the EDSA busway remained free of vehicles.

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“Well, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) Bong Nebrija is not pleased. ‘I do not know where these rich kids get their statistics from but almost 50% of households in the Philippines do not own cars,’ Nebrija said in a Facebook post, stressing that car ownership in the country is the lowest in the region with just 38 cars per capita.

“‘And you know what is alarming which I think the author of that post belongs to, 16% households have more than one car,’ he added.

“The MMDA traffic chief also pointed out that the photos Luxury Cars Manila shared did more to destroy the group’s own argument than support it, as it shows ‘the concept of moving people and not cars.’

“‘The luxury car [owner’s] reality I guess is far off from the reality of an ordinary Filipino. That’s what happens when a fool writes about what a wise man said.’”

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MPTC-operated tollways get more RFID lanes

“‘As you may have heard by now, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced that all major tollways across the country will be required to shift to completely cashless payments by November 2, 2020. In line with this, the Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) has started opening more RFID lanes on its expressways.

The MPTC began its work with the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex), C5 South Link, and the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX). It expects that the eventual elimination of cash transactions will make passage through its tollways three times faster.

Easytrip RFIDs are used along all MPTC-operated tollways. You can get these tags by paying the minimum initial load of P200 at all installation sites in Luzon. There are also stick-it-yourself Easytrip tags that can now be ordered online.

“The Autosweep RFIDs used along tollways operated by the San Miguel Corporation can also be used on MPTC’s expressways. To activate this, motorists only need to bring their Autosweep-equipped vehicles to any installation and reloading site and top up the initial P200 load. The activation will then take effect 24 hours from the initial top-up.

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“The MPTC assures motorists that it will establish more Easytrip sites along Cavitex, C5 South Link, and CALAX soon.”

We could soon see the return of motorcycle taxis

Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of Joint Task Force COVID Shield, has recommended the resumption of the motorcycle-taxi pilot run in areas under general community quarantine, particularly Metro Manila.

“During a hearing initiated by the House Committee on Transportation, Eleazar said that the recommendation is based on an ongoing policy of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which allows backriding in GCQ areas, provided certain conditions are met.

“For its part, the House panel is pushing for the resumption of the motorcycle-taxi pilot run for two reasons: 1) the acute shortage of public transportation; and, 2) the lack of supporting data from the previous experimental schemes conducted with motorcycle-taxi companies Angkas, JoyRide, and Move It. Rep. Edgar Sarmiento says that letters have been sent to the IATF requesting for the resumption of the pilot run. The results will then be the basis of a law that will legitimize motorcycles-for-hire in the country.

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“The use of backriding barriers, which is currently mandatory among riders and pillion riders not living under one roof, will be one of the requirements for motorcycle-taxi companies. ‘Ang experience po kasi namin, because these barriers are being used ng mga magkaangkas na hindi naman magkasama sa isang bahay, since we are allowing that for private use, ay ano pa bang ang pagkakaiba pa nun kung matutulungan natin [ang mga] walang motorsiklo but may available naman na motorcycle taxi?’ said Eleazar.

‘For as long as mayroon pong [backriding] barrier,’ he stressed.

“Aside from this, Eleazar said that passengers must be required to use face masks and helmets with full-visors.”

Is your travel to the province non-essential? It’s still not allowed

“Crossing between Metro Manila and the provinces is still prohibited while the National Capital Region is under GCQ until September 30, said JTF COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Tuesday, September 1.

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“Essential workers who must cross to the province and back are allowed to pass through checkpoints as long as they present their company ID. Those wishing to go to the province from Metro Manila must first secure a medical clearance from their respective local government unit’s health officials and present this to the police, who will then coordinate with their province of destination. Only then will a travel authority be granted, Eleazar explained.

“The travel authority will have specific approved dates, and will only be valid during that time. Locally stranded individuals and those traveling for emergency purposes can apply for travel authority, Eleazar added. Checkpoints, meanwhile, will still be in place all over the capital region to curb unnecessary travel.”

Student-permit applicants can attend the required seminar free at the LTO

“The Land Transportation Office (LTO) officially made the new driving course completion certificates a requirement for driver’s license applicants last month. This means that from here on out, those who wish to secure new licenses must complete a Theoretical Driving Course (TDC) or a Practical Driving Course (PDC) prior to application.

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“To help this advocacy, the LTO has opened a new Driver’s Education Center (DEC) in San Fernando, Pampanga and wherein student-driver applicants can take TDCs for free. The new facility contains two lecture rooms where applicants can complete the 15-hour lecture requirement plus one room wherein they can take exams to acquire a course completion certificate.

“Examinations will be supervised by lecturers, and test questionnaires will be given by set to prevent cheating among applicants. The LTO also assures the public that security within the facility will be tight to avoid fixers.

“In addition to these, there’s also a small maneuvering track inside the DEC that applicants may use for driving practice, free of charge. However, the LTO will not conduct PDCs or award certificates for such in its new facility. For practical courses, driver’s license applicants may go to LTO-accredited schools or establishments.”

Itching to watch a movie? Check this out

SM Cinemas has announced that the Mall of Asia Event Grounds is being converted into a massive drive-in movie theater. The company just shared the screening schedule for its first two films, the Train to Busan sequel Peninsula, and the Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged.

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“All tickets must be purchased through the SM Cinemas website, and no tickets will be sold at the venue. One ticket costs P400, and it’s important to note that they are sold per passenger, not per vehicle. This means if you’re carrying three passengers, you’ll need to spend P1,600 on tickets, including one for yourself.

“The entrance includes popcorn, bottled water, and a hotdog, and the company is recommending two occupants per car for the best viewing experience. As a safety precaution, only enclosed cars are allowed inside the venue, and seniors and minors will not be allowed to enter. Outside food and drinks, as well as pets, are also prohibited.”

Grab’s GCQ operating hours are now extended

GrabCar and GrabTaxi, which could only accept passengers until 10pm upon resuming trips during GCQ, will now be up and running from 5am up until 12 midnight seven days a week. This is effective September 2, and applies for the following services in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Pampanga.

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Metro Manila

  1. GrabCar 2-Seater (GrabPay, credit/debit card)
  2. GrabCar 4-Seater (all cashless payments)
  3. GrabCar 4-Seater (NCR to outside NCR)
  4. GrabCar 4-Seater (outside NCR to NCR)
  5. GrabCar 4-Seater (outside NCR)
  6. GrabTaxi

Cebu

  1. GrabCar 2-Seater (all cashless payments)
  2. GrabTaxi

Pampanga

  1. GrabCar (credit/debit card)
  2. GrabCar (GrabPay)
  3. GrabTaxi

“In line with health protocols, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like face shields and masks is required during GrabCar and GrabTaxi trips. For the same reason, the only mode of payment available is cashless (GrabPay, credit card, debit card). Remember: If a passenger refuses to comply with these guidelines, his or her Grab driver may choose to cancel the booking.”

Angkashless for the new normal

“Things are starting to look up for motorcycle-taxi companies. As mentioned above, some government officials are now recommending the resumption of the motorcycle-taxi pilot run in GCQ areas, including Metro Manila.

“In order for this to happen, however, there are still a lot of preparations that need to be made. Angkas, for its part, is set to launch a new system that taxi operations need during this pandemic: cashless transactions. According to its latest Facebook post, the company will be accepting credit card payments soon—in September 2020, to be exact. Look:

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“This means that anytime within the next few weeks, regardless if motorcycle taxis end up resuming operations or not, Angkas will be deploying its new cashless payment system. The company provided no further details about the new mode of payment, but we reckon it will still be accepting cash payments even with the new cashless system in place.”

Keep those helmet visors down

In a previous story, we shared the MMDA’s recent reminder for motorcycle riders around the metro: ‘Kailangan abot hanggang baba ang visor o shield ng helmet. Dapat isuot ito kasama ng mask sa buong biyahe. Isa lamang ito sa mga nilabas na guidelines ng NTF COVID tungkol sa motorcycle backriding sa panahon ng GCQ.’

“Unfortunately, it appears that a lot of riders are still failing to comply with these supposedly more lenient guidelines. MMDA’s Bong Nebrija recently went live on Facebook to show that a good number of motorists were getting flagged down along EDSA for violating the new guidelines for pillion riders—some riders kept their helmet visors up, while some had helmets without visors altogether.

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“‘Marami na po kaming nahuhuli. Meron po yung mga substandard na helmets. Nakailan na po kami bago pa ako nag-live. Kaya rin nag-live ako dahil nakakabahalayung mga napapagsabihan namin dito parami nang parami, ibig sabihin, it’s very significant,” Nebrija said.

“He added that the fine for this specific violation is P1,500, although we can’t say for sure if the MMDA officials were actually issuing tickets to the motorists or letting them slide with a warning.”

Pasig River Expressway includes rehab of Pasig River

“San Miguel Corporation’s proposed P95-billion Pasig River Expressway, which is currently under government review, includes plans to rehabilitate the body of water as close to its former glory as possible. Besides the project’s 19.4km, six-lane elevated expressway, the development includes the dredging of the river bed to remove ‘decades of debris and garbage.’ This doesn’t just mean a healtheir Pasig River, but a better-flowing one, too.

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“‘Of all the projects we have done, this will perhaps be among the most challenging, and at the same time, the most fulfilling. Not only will we be building a much-needed direct link between eastern and western Metro Manila, but we will also be leading a historic effort to bring the Pasig River back to health,’ SMC president Ramon Ang said in a statement.

“Remember, a healthier Pasig River is just one of the advantages here. The Pasig River Expressway aims to cut travel time from Manila to Rizal to just 15 minutes and will provide an alternate route to Makati City, Ortigas, and Bonifacio Global City.”

This weeks wtf moment...

“Two tandem riders were recently filmed cruising through Cavitex using what seems to be a small bike. We’re not sure what the scooter is, though someone did say something about a Honda Beat in the video. Whatever the case may be, we can say one thing for certain: That motorcycle definitely doesn’t look big enough to be expressway-legal.

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“To make matters worse, these guys weren’t even going slow along the expressway. As mentioned in the clip, the riders were actually running at around 80kph. Fortunately, authorities caught up and were able to apprehend the two.

“Let this video be a reminder that motorcycles with engine displacements below 400cc are not allowed on all major tollways, and that includes South Luzon Expressway, North Luzon Expressway, Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway, Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway, Cavite-Laguna Expressway, STAR Tollway, and, of course, Cavitex.

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“Also, bear in mind that wearing your helmets—especially in this time of a pandemic—is never optional. Such violations will never be tolerated, so we hope this serves as yet another warning for all motorcyclists out there.”

PHOTO: DPWH, LTO, San Miguel Corporation, Jefferson Conejos on Facebook
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