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Some ten local governments in the different parts of Luzon recently concurred to open their borders for inter-regional routes, especially public utility buses and vans from Baguio City anytime as soon as all health and safety protocols shall have been finalized.
Engr. Januario Borillo, chief of the traffic and transport management division of the City Engineering Office, disclosed that the local governments informed the city of their acceptance of buses and vans coming from the city include Clark, San Fernando City and Mabalacat City in Pampanga; Mariveles, Bataan; San Carlos, Villasis and Lingayen in Pangasinan; Olongapo City, Zambales; Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija; Bontoc, Mountain Province and the National Capital Region (NCR).
Under the initially agreed guidelines governing the operation of inter-regional routes in the city, buses from the NCR, Bataan, Zambales, Pampanga and Tarlac area will pass through the expressways while the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), in coordination with the concerned local governments allowing the travel to and from the city, should identify a common pickup and drop-off points in their jurisdiction.
Further, the identified common pickup and drop-off points shall provide isolation rooms with the presence of qualified medical staff in the said points in coordination with the concerned local government units.
He claimed that the pickup or drop-off points shall be inside the respective terminals of the buses and vans and that the terminals shall also designate a triage area for incoming passengers and provision for an isolation area with the prescribed minimum area such as open area, with a handwashing facility or hand sanitizing station near a rest room, near the exit with provision for chairs, face masks and face shields.
According to the proposed rules, no rest stops or stopovers will be allowed, thus, the use of buses with own comfort rooms will be preferred.
However, stopovers shall only be allowed during medical emergency cases, and as an administrative control, driver or conductor substitution shall not be allowed and pickup of passengers along the route will never be allowed.
Borillo stated that a list of commuter and provincial bus routes shall be issued by the LTFRB upon approval of the concerned local governments in coordination with the inter-agency task force pursuant to the gradual and calibrated opening of public land transportation.
The city official stated that authorized units shall be issued the corresponding QR codes and the units allowed to travel shall be subject to local government and task force guidelines.
Moreover, the city shall limit the number of passengers allowed to travel to and from their jurisdiction daily and the corresponding number of bus units to be deployed to accommodate the allowed passengers will be based on the said number.
Initially, the number of buses allowed in the city shall be 8 buses per day only and that entry of buses in the central triage will have an interval of at least 1 hour.
Operators may increase the number of units they will operate upon installation and certification of the health services office on their own triage and the number of bus units per operator will be distributed proportionately among all existing authorized operators operating in the given route.
By Dexter A. See