Back to normal? Transport hubs in Metro Manila prepare for Alert Level 1

Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2022 04:34 PM

MANILA - It has been two years since transport hubs in the National Capital Region saw an increase in passenger volume. 

Metro Manila is going under Alert Level 1, the loosest in a five-level COVID-19 quarantine alert level system, starting Tuesday, March 1.

Under the said level, public transportation can resume at full capacity, and commuters can take public transport without the plastic dividers or the need to process the S-Pass for interzonal travels, or to sit one seat apart. 

At the Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX), the passenger volume has reached its pre-pandemic level of over 60,000 passengers per day. 

“Kahit papaano, nakikita natin bumabalik na sa normal. Siguro ang hindi na lang normal dito, yung nakikita natin na nagsusuot pa rin ng face mask ang ating mga kababayan," said PITX Corporate Affairs and Government Relations Jason Salvador. 

"Sa pinakadumadagsa ay yung mga commuter routes--ito pa rin yung lumalaking bilang. Bukod sa daily wage earners, lumalaki rin ang bilang ng mga earners na umaangkat ng mga produkto mula sa Metro Manila. Pero ngayon ang ina-anticipate natin yung pupunta sa probinsya na 'di makauwi noon," he added.

Salvador noted, however, that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has yet to give them guidelines for Alert Level 1.

“Wala pa. Naghihintay tayo ng direktiba sa DOTr at LTFRB. Ayon na rin sa nilabas ng IATF, nagkakaroon ng adjustments. Ang pinakamalaking adjustment ay yung pagpayag na ng 100% full capacity."

"Ito yung malaking balakid noon. Burden ito hindi lang sa mga pasahero dahil nagkakaroon sila ng dagdag na paghihintay, kundi burden din sa mga transport operators dahil hindi nila ma-maximize ang pagbiyahe dahil sa pagtaas pa ng presyo ng petrolyo. Medyo struggling sila sa negosyo, " Salvador said. 

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport, meanwhile, will be reopening its Terminal 4 early next month to accommodate more flights. 

Terminal 4 was used for local flights, but NAIA management closed it in a bid to reduce losses as borders were shut amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Metro Manila’s gateway is expecting an increase in air travelers as quarantine restrictions are eased in the region.

“Dumadami na po, lalo ang domestic flights natin. Kailangan natin maiwasan ang congestion sa Terminal 3," said Manila International Airport Authority general manager Ed Monreal. 

"During the pandemic, sinarado natin ang Terminal 4 dahil wala masyadong flights. Kailangan na po buksan ang Terminal 4 para yung mga dating nag-ooperate sa paliparan na yun ay maibalik na po at mabigyang daan yung pasahero, na hindi na magkaroon ng further inconvenience sa flights na mina-mount ng airlines," he explained. 

Unlike the PITX, the airport is still seeing a lower passenger volume compared to pre-pandemic days. It has recorded only a third of daily passenger volume during the pre-pandemic period.

Businesses have said that they are in favor of placing Metro Manila under Alert Level 1 to spur economic growth.

The air travel industry was one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

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