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October 26, 2021

DOTr Says Metro Manila Ready For 100 Percent Passenger Capacity For Public Transport

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is recommending to increase the passenger capacity of public transportation, road, and rail to 100 percent. This as the agency is ready to defend its stance to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or IATF-EID this Thursday, October 28, 2021.

If the IATF-EID accepts the proposal, the DOTr is readying for a pilot implementation in Metro Manila.

The recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transport is one of the measures being considered by the DOTr to help drivers and operators amid the pandemic and the continued increase of fuel prices.

According to DOTr Assistant Secretary Mark Steven Pastor, “Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50 percent na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang Kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100 percent based on medical literature that is available. At the same time, we are ready to defend our position to IATF this Thursday. Alam naman natin na mayroon pa rin tayong dapat idulog sa IATF dahil this is not only a matter of public transportation but also a matter of public health.”

The DOTr's proposed passenger capacity increase in public transport, with a pilot run in Metro Manila, is anchored on the following arguments.

First is that Metro Manila is now under Alert Level 3, which allows for more businesses to open, and more people going out, which resulted to greater demand for public transport. Studies have shown that reliance on complete face mask use and partial hand sanitizer use were proven enough to contain three very modest COVID-19 waves while preserving normal bus services. Other studies have also revealed that passengers in the high-risk zones (seats in the same row with an infected passenger and within three rows) had moderate but not significantly higher risk, and that “rigid” safe distancing rules are an oversimplification based on outdated science and experiences of past viruses.

Second, the livelihood of public transport drivers and operators were severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50 percent. Increasing passenger capacity will mean a higher revenue for the public transport sector. This will be a welcome development considering the increase in expenses brought by increasing fuel prices.

Third, Metro Manila is the ideal place to test the proposal considering that 81.4 percent of its population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, public utility jeepneys and buses operating in Metro Manila are well-ventilated.

Finally, the DOTr had also conducted a rapid analysis of available data on COVID-19 cases (7-day average cases per 1 million population) and public transport capacity, which covered 10 countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Australia, Vietnam, and Malaysia). It was found out that public transport capacity has no significant correlation with the number of COVID-19 cases.

Are you in favor of bringing the capacity of public utility vehicles, road, and rail transport back to 100 percent?

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