The required physical distance between passengers inside public transport units will be reduced to 3/4 or 0.75 meter from the current 1 meter effective September 14, 2020.
This will be reduced to 1/2 or 0.5 meter after two weeks and further to 1/3 or 0.3 meter after another two weeks.
However, the passengers are barred from talking to each other or making phone calls on board a public transport unit. They are also required to wear face masks and face shields.
The easing of physical distancing measures in public transport units was approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Infectious Diseases during its recent meeting, according to Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade in a statement on September 11.
DOTr representatives, in their presentation before the IATF, said the physical distance between passengers may be reduced since strict health protocols against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are already being enforced such as the wearing of face masks and face shields.
The reduction will allow public transport units to carry more passengers at one time.
For example, in Light Rail Transport 1 (LRT-1), the number of passengers per trainset will increase to 204 for the 3/4-meter distance, 255 for the 1/2-meter distance and 300 for the 1/3-meter distance. At present, LRT-1 can carry only up to 155 passengers at a 1-meter distance.
LRT-2 will be able to carry 212 passengers per trainset beginning September 14, 274 after two weeks and 502 after another two weeks from the current 160 passengers at one-meter distance.
Metro Rapid Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) will be able to increase its passenger load per trainset to 204, 255 and 286 while the Philippine National Railways will be able to carry 184, 256 and 320 based on the new physical distancing measures.
Standing passengers will be allowed in class 2 modern public utility vehicles and public utility buses beginning September 14.
Aircraft and passenger ferries will also be allowed to carry more passengers at one time.
The passenger load capacity in roll-on-roll-off ferries will increase to 75% at a 3/4-meter distance, 85% at 1/2 meter and 100% at 1/3 meter from the current 50%.
“There is a need to safely optimize the carrying capacity of the various public transport modes as Metro Manila and its adjacent areas continue with the transition towards the ‘new normal’ where more workers are expected to return to their reopened workplaces and more businesses are expected to resume operations that were stopped during the enforcement of strict quarantine measures,” Tugade said. (Ventures Cebu)