DOTr offers free rides for essentials workers as ECQ hampers transport

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2021 02:52 PM

DOTr offers free rides for essentials workers as ECQ hampers transport 1
People take public transportation at the center bus lane terminal near Nepa-QMart along EDSA in Quezon City on March 5, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Essential workers who commute and others who are authorized outside of their residence during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in the so-called NCR Plus could avail of free rides in 44 routes around Metro Manila and its adjacent areas, the Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

Workers just need to show their government or company ID to avail of the free rides meant to alleviate commuter woes experienced during the first day of ECQ.

The service is available from 4 a.m. up to 10 p.m., the DOTr said.

Public utility vehicle operators, under the service contracting program, will be paid by the government P46.8 pesos per kilometer under the Bayanihan Act 2, Undersecretary for Road Mark Steven Pastor said.

On Tuesday, commuters were seen as early as 3 a.m. along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to get a ride.

“Mahirap, walang masakyan, dalawang oras naghihintay (It's difficult, there's no transport available),” restaurant staff James Romerosa told ABS-CBN News.

Some workers resorted to "habal-habal" that sprouted right outside the MRT-3 line despite the government's bus augmentation efforts. The MRT-3 is closed until April 4. 

Other transport hubs such as the Araneta City Bus Terminal have the same commuter problems where a callcenter agent complained of lack of transport options.

“Dito talaga ako sumasakay nung nag-ECQ kahapon. Konti lang dumadaan. Nagbakasakali ako. Marikina po, pauwi na ng bahay. Sobrang hirap kasi kapag papasok. Naghihintay kami ng company shuttle, wala. Wala kasi dumadaan kahit taxi," the worker said.

(I tried to find a ride here when the ECQ was imposed yesterday. Very few PUVs are coming. I tried my luck. Im going home to Marikina. It was very difficult. We waited for the company shuttle but there's none. Even taxi, there's none.)

The DOTr said the available public transport modes and PUVs that were given permits to service commuters will be of service as long as the NRC Plus areas remain under ECQ.

"Mahigpit natin pinababantayan ito sa operators at drivers at conductors natin, na 'wag pasakayin kapag hindi APOR, Pastor said.

(We've asked operators, drivers and conductors not to pickup those who are not APOR.)

Show cause orders will have to be issued to some PUV operators who refuse to operate due to lower passenger capacity, Pastor added.

The National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were placed under ECQ until April 4 after confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 breached the 9,000 mark in the last few days. New daily cases hit its highest ever, breaching the 10,000 mark, on Monday.

-- with a report from Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

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