Only a few commuters took the UV Express on the first day of the resumption of its operations on Monday under general community quarantine after over three months of suspension due to the COVID-19 threat.
According to the reports of Ivan Mayrina on GMA Network’s Unang Hirit and Unang Balita, passengers used to troop to the Metro Rizal UV Transport Service and Multipurpose Cooperative Terminal in Antipolo City at around 5 a.m.
But on Monday, only a few passengers were waiting at the terminal from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.
The decrease in passengers was attributed to the point-to-point trip of UV Express, which was ordered by the government in light of the COVID-19 risk.
Most of the passengers needed to be unloaded along the route. Due to this, many passengers decided to take other means of transportation.
According to a report of Mark Makalalad on Dobol sa News TV, the trips of UV Express in Marikina City and San Mateo in Rizal were also rare.
At the Antipolo terminal, there were around 33 UV Express units to service the Antipolo-Ayala route accommodating up to 500 passengers.
As part of the protocol, a UV Express unit can only offer 50% of its load capacity, which means it can only have around nine passengers with 18-passenger load capacity.
The fare was lowered from P60 to P40, complying with the directive of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Before the trip, UV Express units undergo disinfection with a fogging machine. The vehicles have partitions inside and markings to indicate what seats should be left vacant to ensure social distancing.
Drivers also undergo health screening and rapid testing for COVID-19 before being allowed to drive.
They said the new protocols may lead to loss of income. However, they took the chance on the first day of resumption of operations as their dry run.
Passengers also have to follow protocols such as filling out information sheets and contact tracing forms.
They also have to undergo temperature checks, take a foot bath, and apply alcohol.
To avoid physical contact, passengers will pay the fare in exact amount and drop it in a fare box.
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said in an interview on Unang Hirit that there are enforcers deployed to monitor the operations of UV Express.
"Nakakalat po sa buong Metro Manila 'yung ating mga enforcers from Inter-Agency Council of Traffic. Kasama po diyan ang MMDA [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority], LTFRB [Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board], LTO [Land Transportation Office], ganu'n din po ang PNP-HPG [Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group],” Libiran said.
On Saturday, the LTFRB announced that it initially allowed 980 UV Express units for 47 Metro Manila routes to start operating on Monday. —Joviland Rita/KG, GMA News