The required distance between passengers in all forms of public transport shall remain at one meter, Presidential spokeperson Harry Roque confirmed on today, September 19.
“Nag-desisyon na po ang Presidente kahapon (September 18). Ang desisyon po ng Presidente, mananatili po ang one-meter social distancing sa pampublikong transportasyon,” Roque said.
This comes following the decision of the Department of Transportation and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to reduce the social-distancing requirement in public transport from one meter to 0.75 meters, in a bid to meet increasing passenger demand as the economy reopens. The policy, which kicked off on September 14 but was suspended just three days later, would have seen the social-distancing requirement further reduced to 0.5 meters, then eventually t0 0.3 meters, at two-week intervals.
In a statement, the DOTr said it will “strictly enforce” the latest policy: “The President has spoken. We shall aggressively comply [with] and strictly enforce the 1-meter physical distancing in all public transport as envisioned and mandated.”
Following the one-meter requirement, the maximum number of passengers allowed for each of the train lines operating in Metro Manila is as follows:
- MRT-3 – 153 passengers
- LRT-1 – 155 passengers
- LRT-2 – 160 passengers
- PNR – 166 passengers
On a related note, Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on September 18 that drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) are to be held accountable if their passengers do not follow social-distancing requirements on board jeepneys and buses.
As for other measures being undertaken to improve the availability of public transport, the DOTr has announced that its ‘net service contracting scheme,’ in which the government will subsidize PUV operators and drivers, will be implemented by October 2020. Funding for the scheme will come from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II).