Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime J. Bautista convened on Friday, 15 July 2022, various concerned government agencies to thresh out issues and problems faced by the transport sector, and offer solutions to provide “accessible, affordable, comfortable, and safe travel experience” to students in preparation for the education sector’s transition to face-to-face classes in August.
During a discussion with Vice President Sara Duterte, Secretary Bautista said the inter-agency cooperation will be vital to provide students ample supply of transportation, while also ensuring their safety amid the threat of COVID-19.
“Napagusapan namin ni VP Sara after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that there is indeed a need for different agencies to meet and discuss problems and possible solutions, which we will encounter when face-to-face classes start in August,” Secretary Bautista said.
“Kailangan magtulung-tulong tayo para mabigyan natin ng accessible, affordable, comfortable, and safe travel experience ang mananakay lalung-lao na ang mga estudyante,” he added.
The DOTr Road Sector, on the other hand, has recommended to Secretary Bautista the following points:
- Improve deployment of public utility vehicle (PUV) units through formulation and mandating compliance to Service Plans (peak hour deployment at 90% to 100% of PUVs authorized)
- Opening of additional routes as may be deemed necessary, including the reinstatement of pre-pandemic city bus routes, particularly routes not traversing EDSA and fast-tracking of fare review and evaluation of non-operational routes, and introduce developmental routes
- Offering of Libreng Sakay for students on rail lines and EDSA Busway;
- And extension for another two (2) years the life span of school services that have reached 15-year maximum limit by December 2022
“Upon the directive of Secretary Bautista, the DOTr Road Sector ramps up our plans and initiatives to ensure the safe and efficient service in public transportation amid the increase in passenger demand. Hindi lamang supply ang ating concern but also the students’ safety,” DOTr Undersecretary for Road and Transport Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor said.
“Sufficient po ang ating available transportation provided that operators deploy 90% of their PUV units,” he added.
The Metro Manila Development Authority, for its part, will deploy 2,238 personnel along major roads and within high-density schools in Metro Manila with 581 traffic enforcers to be dispatched to 148 schools in the National Capital Region (NCR) for the resumption of classes.
A total of four (4) MMDA buses and two (2) military trucks are also deployed for free rides to assist the commuting public daily. On the other hand, the Pasig River Service operated by the MMDA will also offer free rides for commuters from Mondays through Saturdays within its 13 stations.
At the inter-agency meeting were DOTr Undersecretary for Rails Cesae Chavez, Department of Education (Deped) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Executive Director Atty. Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro, Land Transportation Office (LTO) Officer-in-Charge Atty. Romeo Vera Cruz, Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Atty. Cheloy Garafil.
Also present were MMDA OIC Engr. Baltazar Melgar, Light Rail Manila Corp. President & CEO Juan Alfonso, Philippine National Police - National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) Police Brigadier General Nicolas Torree III, Metro Rail Transit (MRT-3) OIC Engr. Ofelia Astrera, Philippine National Railways (PNR) OIC Atty. Celeste Lauta, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Artemio Abu, Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) OIC Paul Chua, and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Joint Task Force NCR Deputy Commander Col. Romel Recinto.