MANILA–The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Sunday, 02 January 2022, directed bus companies, PUV operators and transport terminals in the National Capital Region (NCR) to impose tighter health protocols as the region was placed under Alert Level 3 starting today, 3 January 2022 until 15 January 2022 following a spike in COVID-19 cases.

In its memorandum issued on 02 January 2022, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) reminded land-based transportation stakeholders to closely supervise their drivers and conductors, and ensure that they strictly adhere to health protocols particularly the 70% maximum passenger capacity public utility vehicles (PUVs).

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) likewise issued a memorandum dated 2 January, calling on PUV operators, drivers and passengers to follow the 7 Commandments for Public Transport and to observe the 70% maximum passenger capacity order in PUVs.

The LTFRB warned that the non-observance of health protocols onboard PUVs or a violation the 70% maximum passenger capacity order are considered violations of franchise conditions. Penalties for violating PUV franchise conditions range from hefty fines to the impounding of the involved PUV.

The LTFRB also warned PUV drivers who will not enforce the 70 percent maximum passenger capacity rule, as well as the strict health protocols in their vehicles, that their driver’s licenses may be suspended. Erring drivers may also face additional criminal complaints.

Transportation Secretary Art Tugade explained that the 70% maximum passenger capacity will remain in NCR to keep pace with the demand for public transport services.

Secretary Tugade pointed out that any adjustments or changes of the allowable maximum passenger capacity in public transportation will be subject to the guidance of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“With the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in NCR, the DOTr enjoins our land-based transport operators to remind passengers to strictly observe minimum health protocols and ensure that the maximum allowable passenger capacity is followed,” Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said.

“We cannot let our guard down. Following the government’s minimum health protocol is for our greater good. We must remain vigilant so we can reverse the uptick of cases in the country,” Tugade added.

DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Steven Pastor said road sector agencies will focus on the enforcement of the 70% seating capacity,

“The DOTr Road Sector will make sure that the maximum passenger capacity is strictly followed. As COVID-19 cases increase in the NCR, we are urging our transport stakeholders, especially the riding public, to observe health protocols, and to be wary of PUVs not following the allowable capacity. This is the only way we can help in reducing the number of infections,” Asec. Pastor explained.

Meanwhile, Secretary Tugade urged the public to cooperate in strictly following the 7 Commandments for Public Transport upon the recommendations of health experts. 1. Wear face masks; 2. No talking and making phone calls; 3. No eating; 4. Keep public utility vehicles well ventilated; 5. Conduct of frequent disinfection; 6. No passengers with COVID-19 symptoms are to be allowed inside the public transportation; 7. Observe appropriate physical distancing rule

“It is the responsibility of each individual to comply with this requirement. These 7 Commandments for Public Transport create a sense of Bayanihan among us Filipinos, which is needed in the fight against the pandemic,” Sec. Tugade said.