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Relaxed GCQ not easy for thousands of commuters in NCR

With limited public transportation, the first day of general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila became scenes of struggles for commuters who had to spend hours on the road to get to their destination.

Private car owners, meanwhile, had to bear the traffic build-up on some parts of Edsa, as workers began returning to their workplace under the “new normal.”

Even before sunrise, long line of riders have queued to take the train.  Some chose to wait for hours to get on the few buses plying only in select routes.  Others trudged kilometers to reach their destination and back home.

Hours on the road

According to Jonathan Andal’s report on “24 Oras” on Monday, employees started to wait for their ride at EDSA-Cubao before dawn.

Among them was Antipolo resident Rey Oliva who works as a messenger for a bank in Parañaque.

Oliva said he allotted six hours for his commute from his house to the office.

“Iniisip ko nga mag-rent na lang ako ng kwarto malapit sa Terminal 1. Wala tayong magagawa, kailangan talaga. May pamilya tayo,” Oliva said.

However, Oliva and several of his fellow commuters were not aware that no public utility buses were allowed to board passengers at  EDSA-Cubao.

He later on decided to take the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to Taft Avenue and walk to his workplace.

Other commuters resorted to hitchhiking just to get to work.

A construction worker from Antipolo hitched a ride on a truck delivering vegetables to get to Makati.

“Nakipagsapalaran lang ako, baka may pasok. Kasi ‘yung ibang sites may pasok na,” he said.

“Akala ko po’y may bibiyahe nang mga ano at ang sabi’y GCQ na. Lalakarin [ko] na lang hanggang Alabang o ano,” commuter Reynard de Chavez added.

Lolo collapses

A senior citizen passed out while waiting for a ride in Commonwealth along Litex Road in Quezon City.

The first day of the general community quarantine in Metro Manila proved to be a challenge for Ernesto Cuña as he waited for three hours just to get a hold of transportation.

According to Marisol Abdurahman’s report on “24 Oras,” Cuña fainted on the side of the road due to the heat. He was immediately approached by barangay officials and policemen.

“Wala kasing masakyan eh. (Papunta sa) Central Bank papapalit ako ng pera,” he said.

Cuña was just one of the many commuters who struggled to get to work as public transportation was limited on the first day of the GCQ.

Fewer bus routes

Earlier on Monday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said the number of routes was cut down from 96 prior to the coronavirus pandemic to only 31 under GCQ.

The agency said this was why buses did not pick up or drop off passengers at certain stops.

"Because there is more turnaround trips, mas makakasakay yung mga pasahero ng mas madali. ‘Yun po ang sistema na nilalagay po natin," LTFRB chief Martin Delgra claimed.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is mulling more bus stops on EDSA after assessing the first day of GCQ. 

Transportation chief Arthur Tugade and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also appealed for the public’s patience and understanding amid the limited operation of mass transit. 

Two phases

The DOTr earlier said that public transportation would resume under GCQ in two phases.

Under Phase 1, which will run from June 1 to 21, only trains, augmentation buses, taxis, transport network vehicle services (TNVS), shuttle services, point-to-point buses, and bicycles will be allowed to operate on a limited capacity.

The operation of tricycles under this phase is subject to the approval of local government units.

Provincial buses are also not allowed to enter Metro Manila during Phase 1.

Under Phase 2 from June 22 to 30, public utility buses, modern public utility vehicles or jeepneys, and UV Express will be allowed to operate on a limited capacity. -Julia Marie Ornedo/Ma. Angelica Garcia/NB/LDF, GMA News