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PSA: There's A 'One Seat Apart' Rule When You Ride Grab Cars + Taxis

Listen up, commuters.
PHOTO: Unsplash/Dan Gold

Amid the rising number of cases of coronavirus disease or COVID-19 in the Philippines and the government's implementation of a Metro Manila "community quarantine" from March 15 to April 14, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has issued guidelines on social distancing on public transport.

In a press briefing on March 14, DOTr outlined the travel restrictions to be observed by the different transport providers once the community quarantine takes effect.

Taxis and Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS):

  • Taxis, airport taxis, and TNVS like Grab can only have a maximum of four passengers (including the driver), with a distance of one seat apart.
  • Multiple bookings for one booking (like GrabShare) and the pilot test of motorcycle taxis (like Angkas) are suspended.

Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs):

  • UV Express vehicles cannot have more than six passengers (including the driver) and passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Jeepneys cannot accommodate passengers more than half its capacity and should observe one seat apart between passengers.
  • Buses cannot have more than 25 passengers (including the driver and the conductor), not allow standing passengers, and passengers should be one seat apart.
  • Provincial buses and the inter-regional trips of jeepneys and UV Express vehicles entering and exiting Metro Manila will be terminated on entry points which will be identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Buses and jeepneys will be on standby at these entry points for passengers coming in from outside Metro Manila.

Rail Operations (LRT-1, LRT-2, MRT-3, PNR)

  • Trains and platform capacity will be reduced to 25 percent.
  • Senior citizens will be allocated a new subsection to further distance themselves from the women's section.
  • Philippine National Railway (PNR) operations from Alabang to Laguna is suspended.
  • Trains will be disinfected every time these reach the end-stations.

Air Travel

  • All domestic flights to and from Metro Manila are suspended.
  • Cargo flights, air ambulances, government supplies, government military flights, weather mitigation flights, and maintenance and utility flights are exempted .
  • Passengers on international flights can terminate their flight in Metro Manila and arrange for their own transport within the region.
  • General aviation flights are suspended and will be diverted to Sangley Airport or Clark Airport.

Water Travel

  • Ferry services within Metro Manila will continue to operate but at only 50 percent capacity per vessel.
  • Passenger ferries coming from outside Metro Manila can dock at ports near but still outside Metro Manila.
  • Cargo vessels can still go in and out of Metro Manila.
  • Foreign and domestic ships must unload its waste at the next port of call outside Metro Manila.

Apart from the public transport restrictions, the government also suspended classes in Metro Manila until April 12, prohibited mass gatherings, and banned domestic land, air, and sea travel to and from NCR until April 14.

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the rising number of COVID-19 cases around the world a pandemicdescribed as the “worldwide spread of a new disease". 

As of March 14, the Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 34 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's total to 98.

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