MANILA — Transport groups lamented Friday the alleged lack of preparation on the side of regulators as traditional jeepneys return to roads after nearly 4 months of quarantine restrictions.
Traditional jeepneys have been allowed starting today to ply select routes in Metro Manila in compliance with the fresh policies issued by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday.
Under LTFRB's new rules, around 6,000 traditional jeepneys have been allowed to ferry passengers in 47 routes.
However, they are allowed to carry only half of their passenger capacity to observe physical distancing protocols against COVID-19.
Jeepney operators were also supposedly required to obtain QR codes from the LTFRB website, but the policy was deferred until next week due to technical problems in its website.
According to Efren de Luna, national president of Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), these last minute changes are consequences of failed leadership of transport agencies.
"Ang katotohanan niyan bumuwelo lang sila, napahiya lamang 'yang LTFRB at DOTr (Department of Transportation)... Ngayon ay lumalabas kinakain na nila 'yung mga requirements nila at alam naman natin na mapapahiya sila kaya kahit wala nang QR code ay puwede na daw lumabas," De Luna told Teleradyo.
"Kapag ang namumuno hindi nakakintindi ay talagang karamihan niyan ay mali ang mga plano," he added.
Mody Floranda of PISTON, meanwhile, criticized DOTr consultant Alberto Suansing who said some safety measures initiated by drivers, like plastic partitions installed in their jeepney units, put passengers more at risk to COVID-19 infection.
"Ito nagiging problema sa kabagalan maglabas ng guideliens. Parang kami pa may kasalanan na naglagay kami ng paraan. Ito po ay pagpapakita na ang driver at operator ang handa, ang hindi handa dito ang LTFRB at DOTr dahil ngayon pa lang sila nagbibigay ng patakaran," Floranda said.
The government has slowly allowed the resumption of public transportation services in phases after Metro Manila and other urban hubs transitioned to a more relaxed general community quarantine.
The government initially allowed limited operations of trains, buses, taxis, ride-sharing services, and modern jeepneys.
Traditional jeepneys however are the last option in terms of public transport based on the government's system due to difficulties in implementing minimum health standards such as physical distancing.