PNR Clark Phase 1: On track for completion — DOTr

Maris Federez   •   October 11, 2021   •   267

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced the nearing completion of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 1 (Tutuban-Malolos).

In its Facebook post, the DOTr said the PNR Clark Phase 1 is on track for completion as the first trainset of the rolling stock contract is now undergoing a series of factory acceptance testing (FAT) in Japan.

Through the said testing, the newly manufactured trainset will undergo verification if it meets its intended purpose.

It shall also determine if the trainset is compliant with several international standards, such as the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS).

The DOTr expects the trainset to arrive at the Malanday Depot on the first week of December 2021 as it is scheduled to depart the Yokohama Port this month.

“Aligned with the BUILD, BUILD, BUILD Program of the Duterte administration, the PNR Clark Phase 1 project aims to serve around 300,000 passengers daily and is expected to reduce travel time between Tutuban in Manila and Malolos in Bulacan from 1 hour and 30 minutes to just 35 minutes,” the statement said.

The DOTr said it remains committed to WORK, WORK, WORK through vital transport infrastructure projects, noting that it now has 264 calendar days to go “to fulfill the promise of a comfortable life to Filipinos”.

DOTr ready to defend recommendation to increase PUV passenger capacity

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it is prepared to defend its recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transportation, road, and rail.

In a statement released on Tuesday (October 26), DOTr Asec. Steve Pastor said the Department has submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) its formal position paper on the increase in passenger capacity for public transport.

“Nakapag-submit na po ang road sector ng formal position paper na i-increase ang seating capacity from 50% na para po sa amin, kung masusunod ang Kagawaran, ay pwedeng maging 100% based on medical literature that is available. At the same time, we are ready to defend our position to IATF this Thursday,” he said.

The recommendation to increase passenger capacity in public transport aims to help drivers and operators amid the pandemic and the continued increase of fuel prices.

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

1. 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 3 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.

2. The livelihood of public transport drivers and operators were severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50%. 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.

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

4. 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 (Philippine, 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

5. Evidence also suggest that high vaccination rate prompts an increase in allowed PUV capacity. AAC

DOTr welcomes release of P1B fuel subsidy for PUV drivers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Transportation (DOTr) welcomed the release of P1.0 billion funds to be used for fuel subsidies.

In a statement, the DOTr said this is in support of the transportation sector amid the increasing prices of fuel and oil products. The department also assured the funds will be distributed as cash grants to qualified and bonafide public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers for the remaining months of this year.

“Qualified PUV drivers will receive the cash grants using the system already established under the Pantawid Pasada Program of the LTFRB, where the Landbank of the Philippines shall disburse money straight to the cash cards issued to drivers,” the DOTr said.

Meanwhile, the transportation department will also discuss with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) the increase of passenger capacity in public transportation as the National Capital Region and other parts of the country are placed under more relaxed quarantine levels. AAC

Transport groups defer petition for fare hike

Maris Federez   •   October 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Transport groups have announced that they will defer their petition for a P3.00 fare hike.

This was after the House Committee on Transportation convened with the group and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to discuss the said petition seeking an increase in the minimum fare in jeepneys from P9.00 to P12.00.

Pasang Masda President Obet Martin said they have put off their request following the promise from the lawmakers and the DOTr of providing cash subsidy for the transport groups.

“Hindi na namin maitutuloy […] pero naka-pending lang. Naka-file lang kase nakapag-usap na kami sa Congress. […] Nagkasundo na kami tungkol doon sa cash subsidy at tsaka sa fuel subsidy na winu-workout ng DOTr sa mga companies,” Martin said.

He added that their group, the DOTr and the House committee came to an agreement to create a program that will assist the drivers and operators in coming up with measures to alleviate difficulties brought by the increasing prices of petroleum products.

“Ang LTFRB naman gagawa naman sila ng cash subsidy in a form of pasada card. Kami natutuwa na roon. Pag naayos na lahat yan we will withdraw the said petition dahil bibigyan ng subsidy yan as allowance o pasada card malaking tulong na sa amin yun,” Martin said.

In 2018, the government distributed fuel vouchers to jeepney operators and drivers following the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Under the law, legitimate transport operators and drivers receive Php5,000 to Php20,000 fuel subsidies.

Meanwhile, transports groups also appealed to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to increase the operation of public utility vehicles to 100 percent capacity.—/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Janice Ingente)

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