Sen. Binay challenges DOTr officials to commute to come up with better plans

Marje Pelayo   •   June 3, 2020   •   370

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Nancy Binay on Tuesday challenged Transportation officials to take public transport going to work so they can experience firsthand the daily struggles of commuters 

This was after hundreds of commuters were stranded on the first day of the implementation of general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila and other areas as part of the national government’s decision to ease restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Binay insists that Transport officials must also experience the hardship of commuting to be able to understand the situation and come up with a more reasonable plan to help the riding public. 

“Mabuti sila’t aircon ang mga sasakyan. Kung subukan kaya ng mga opisyal ng DOTr mag-commute papasok sa opisina? Dapat maramdaman nila ang hirap ng mga commuter, [Good for them that they have personal vehicles with air-conditioning, but would DOTr officials dare to commute to work? They should experience the hardships of commuters],” Binay said. 

“They won’t be able to plan well if they don’t understand the people’s daily struggles.”

The lady senator emphasized that transport officials shouldn’t make an ‘experiment’ out of Filipino workers who have been suffering for months due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

“Hindi po lahat ay may kotse, may motorsiklo o bisikleta. Hindi lahat kayang maglakad ng ilang kilometro sa gitna ng baha at ulan, [Not all people have cars, motorbikes, or bicycles. Not all people are able to walk long distances in heavy rain and flood],” Binay said.

“Our workers and the commuting public don’t deserve this kind of treatment.” she added.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has yet to comment on the matter.

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DOTr looking for other value card service providers

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Tuesday said it is now looking for other automated fare collection system providers following the suspension of the mandatory use of Beep cards in the EDSA Busway.

The DOTr said it wants value card service providers that can give value cards to passengers in lower price or free of charge.

The value cards should also be interoperable or can be used in other forms of public transport.

According to Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddess Hope Libiran, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has met with other service providers to discuss proposals about the implementation of cashless transactions.

“Yung direction ni Secretary Tugade dito at ng DOTr yung cashless transactions should be able to operate on an integrated manner and it should be inter-operable before the end of this year. So, that is the target,” she said.

“Ang sabi ni Secretary Tugade there should be no monopoly and we need to open the automated fare collection system to all providers but they should be able to integrate and operate the system for free,” she added.

Aside from value cards, the DOTr is also looking into the use of QR code-based electronic ticketing system on the EDSA Busway.

The suspension of the mandatory use of Beep cards came after its provider, AF Payments Inc. refused the DOTr’s request to cut the fee of Beep cards alone.

The AF Payments Inc., however, offered to give away 125,000 Beep cards free of charge to commuters who cannot afford one.

The DOTr welcomed the move but it still insists that the value cards should be given for free.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a public address late Monday night, said the Beep cards should be provided for free, adding that he will look for resources to fund the subsidized cards. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)

MRT-3 to increase train speed starting Oct. 1

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The management of the Metro Rail Transit line 3 (MRT-3) on Wednesday announced it will increase train speed to 40 kilometers per hour (kph) starting Thursday, Oct. 1.

In an advisory, the MRT-3 said its passengers can now expect faster travel time and shorter waiting time for train arrival as its trains are set to travel on a speed higher that the current 30kph.

The MRT-3 management said this is a result of the installation of the new long-welded rails (LWRs) in all the MRT-3 stations as part of the massive rehabilitation program of the rail line, which is being implemented by Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy from Japan.

The operating speed will gradually increase from 40kph in October to 50kph by November and 60kph by December 2020.

“After being able to increase the number of running trains, our next target is to increase the speed of our trains in the mainline, until it reaches 60kph,” MRT-3 Director for Operations Michael Capati said.

Despite the implementation of strict community quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic, the MRT-3 management said it continued with the massive rehabilitation and rail replacement works.

The MRT-3 management said its rail replacement works was completed in September this year, several months ahead of its scheduled completion in February 2021.

Capati also said they are conducting monthly system check to test the alignment of the new tracks, the Overhead Catenary System (OCS), and signaling and communications to ensure that the trains are safe and secured while traveling along the mainline.

“Even during the implementation of strict community quarantine levels, with the approval of the IATF, we continued with the massive rehabilitation of the MRT-3, which includes replacing all worn out rails with new ones,” Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade said in a statement.

“Noong mga nakaraang buwan, naiayos natin ang mga bagon, ang mga aircon, maging ang mga elevator at escalator. Noong isang linggo, nagawa nating magpatakbo ng record-breaking number of trains sa MRT-3. Patunay lamang ‘yan na may Covid o wala, tuloy ang trabaho ng DOTr at ng MRT-3,” he added.

Prior to the completion of installation of the new LWRs, average train speed was 30kph with an average headway between 8.5 to 9 minutes for 20 trains.

“With the improvement on the running speed, waiting time is expected to be shortened to 6.5 to 7 minutes,” the MRT-3 said.

One-meter physical distancing will be observed in public transport — Duterte

Maris Federez   •   September 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has decided that the one-meter distance between passengers in public transport must be observed, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced Saturday.

“Mananatili po ang one-meter distancing sa pampublikong transportasyon,” Roque said through state-run PTV4.

He added though that talking inside public transport vehicles is still not allowed and that the minimum health protocol such as wearing of face masks and face shields shall remain.

“Sasamahan din ng pagsuot ng face mask at face shield,” he said.  “Bawal ang magsalita sa mga pampublikong transportasyon.”

The Palace spokesperson said the president made the decision on Friday night amid opposing opinions of medical experts on the matter..

The Department of Transportation has allowed the public transport system in the country to implement a “reduced physical distancing” policy starting Monday, September 14.

From the previous one-meter physical distancing marker between passengers, it was reduced to .75-meter safe distance.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) said it approved the proposal to provide service to the increasing number of passengers brought about by the reopening of more businesses.

The proposal provide for a further reduction of physical distancing to 0.5 meters after two weeks, and to 0.3 meters after another two weeks.

Read: DOTr reduces physical distancing markers in public transport

A panel of doctors has expressed support for the gradual reduction of physical distancing inside public transportation vehicles.

The medical experts, which include former Department of Health Secretaries Manuel Dayrit and Esperanza Cabral, said that while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends keeping a distance of one meter from other passengers to the extent possible, “it allows for adjustments based on context.”

Read: Group of medical experts back reduced distancing policy in public transport

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, however, said the DOTr released the operational guidelines on reduced physical distancing in public transport without consulting health experts and the Metro Manila local government units. — /mbmf

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