LTFRB-7: Over 250 PUVs operate in CV under GCQ
CEBU, May 27 (PIA) — Over 250 public utility vehicles (PUVs) have been plying regular routes in Central Visayas, except in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue where public transport is suspended under the enhanced community quarantine status, with strict implementation of required safety protocols closely monitored by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB-7).
LTFRB-7 Regional Director Eduardo Montealto Jr. said 289 buses and modern public utility jeepneys that look like mini-buses are given special permits (SP) to operate in the whole region, as public transportation opens under the general community quarantine status.
As of May 22, Montealto said there are 155 units in Cebu province apart from the 13 units in Lapulapu City, 67 units in Bohol, and 59 in Negros Oriental that are now operating on rationalized routes in their respective areas.
“The data is less than the programmed number of units for the rationalized routes,” said Montealto.
Montealto, however, said strict implementation of public health safety protocols must continuously be observed by the drivers and operators, such as only 50 percent capacity of the PUV must be accommodated by passengers, physical distancing of one meter between passengers, and wearing of face masks.
There must also be a disinfected footpath available to passengers prior to boarding and all portions inside the PUV must frequently be disinfected.
Thermal scanners should be made available to check the temperature of passengers before boarding, while drivers must also don gloves aside from face masks, said the LTFRB-7 chief.
Road operations are continuously being conducted by the LTFRB-7 to ensure that PUVs are compliant to the guidelines and to ensure that only authorized persons outside of residence are permitted to go out, said Montealto.
The LTFRB-7 director stressed that those who are 20 years old below and above 60 years old are still covered by the curfew and prohibited from leaving their homes, and drivers must ensure that they do not accommodate unauthorized individuals to board the PUVs.
Montealto warned drivers and operators to strictly implement the safety guidelines or else face penalties, as he said that 17 have already been apprehended for violating the rules.
Fifteen of these cases were reported by the passengers themselves who took photos as evidence, he further said.
Common violations reported are that the driver is not wearing a face mask and no physical distancing, while violation of passengers will be against the driver, said Montealto.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Montealto said drivers face criminal liability while penalties involve a fine of P10,000 minimum and not more than P1-MQ and an imprisonment of not more than two months.
Local governments can also request their agency to grant SP to PUVs in case public transport is lacking in their areas considering that under GCQ status, 50 percent of the workforce in industries allowed to open can now report back to work, said Montealto.
PUVs, on the other hand, should transport passengers only from point to point, discouraging pick-up along the way, said Montealto.
There is also an hierarchy of transportation that is prioritized, wherein first to operate are provincial utility buses followed by modern jeepneys or mini-buses, and third is the UV Express, with traditional jeepneys coming in last, he added.
“The SP is only good until the end of the month or May 31, as there will be a different rationalization depending on the status level of Cebu City and Mandaue City on June 1,” said Montealto.
In case Cebu and Mandaue cities will transition to GCQ on June 1, the provincial utility buses may go back to their original routes at the Cebu South Bus and North Bus Terminals, and Montealto said they expect this time the influx of hordes of passengers using public transport as 50 to 75 percent of the estimated industries are bound to open.
“We are requesting big companies especially those located in the cities of Mandaue and Lapulapu to commission authorized buses to shuttle their workers to reduce the demand of passengers that will be using public transport,” urged the LTFRB-7 director.
Montealto said reducing passenger demand by providing free company rides to its employees lessen the waiting time of other workers to be accommodated by PUVs.
When the cities of Cebu and Mandaue will be downgraded to GCQ, the number of PUVs is expected to increase.
This early, the LTFRB-7 is calling on operators to submit their request for SP through online application and email to the following addresses: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Montealto also appealed for cooperation from the public as random inspections are being done by the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic (I-ACT) composed of the LTFRB, Land Transportation Office, Philippine National Police, Highway Patrol Group, and the traffic aides of concerned local governments. (fcr/PIA7)