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Few buses, passengers seen on first day of provincial routes opening

On the morning of the first day of the opening of new provincial bus routes on Wednesday, no bus can be seen at the Parañaque Integrated Transport Exchange (PITX).

In James Agustin's report on Unang Balita, customer service personnel said passengers cannot book trips at the terminal yet as they have to coordinate first with bus companies for a schedule.

The newly opened routes include Batangas City, Lemery, Lipa City, and Nasugbu in Batangas; Indang, Mendez, Tagaytay, and Ternate in Cavite; as well as Calamba City, Siniloan, and Sta. Cruz in Laguna.

But only the buses for existing trips under the general community quarantine (GCQ) are operating at the PITX, such as going to Bacoor, Imus, General Trias, Naic, Kawit, Tanza, Dasmarinas, and Trece Martires, all in Cavite.

Corporate affairs and government relations head of PITX Jason Salvador said they were just waiting for buses for the newly opened routes to arrive.

According to a report on Unang Hirit, the new routes also cover San Fernando, Pampanga route to Cubao in Quezon City. However, the Araneta City Bus Port announced that the resumption was postponed.

Interviewed on Unang Hirit, Executive Director Provincial Bus Operators of the Philippines executive director Alex Yague said that only few buses will ply along the newly opened routes on Wednesday morning.

“Mino-monitor pa namin. Ang nakita namin, mukhang kakaunti pa ‘yung mga bibiyahe ngayong umaga, pati ‘yung pasahero,” Yague said.

“Kasi may requirement na kailangan may 48 hours na booking, pre-booking kaya medyo naguguluhan siguro ‘yung ating mga pasahero ngayong umaga,” he added.

12 routes

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board opened 12 modified provincial bus routes to and from Metro Manila and Regions 3 and 4-A with 286 bus units starting on Monday.

Passengers have to present travel pass, valid ID, medical certificate, and consent for undergoing possible quarantine and COVID-19 test. 

To monitor the compliance of the provincial buses, personnel from the Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield were deployed at bus terminals, according to a separate report on Unang Balita.

The task force advised the public to be vigilant and report violators of health protocols.

Aside from the JTF COVID Shield, personnel from the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) were also conducting inspection on buses passing along Roxas Boulevard, according to a report by Bam Alegre.

This is to ensure that provincial buses were operating only along allowed routes identified in the LTFRB memorandum.

“Unang-una alam naman natin at alam nila 'yun, dapat hanggang PITX lamang sila. Kaya tinitignan namin na huwag silang lalagpas doon,” Jose Manuel Bonnevie of I-ACT said. 

Modified units

Bus firms allowed to operate, meanwhile, had to modify their units to ensure that basic health protocols are observed.

Interviewed on Unang Hirit, bus company operation manager Aleks Briones said they decided to modify the arrangement of seats of their units to maximize the space and allow passengers to observe social distancing.

Instead of two seats, a space, and three seats per row, Briones said they redesigned the arrangement to only three seats per row with spaces in between.

He said passengers should pre-book their trips 48 hours before the preferred schedule through the bus company’s website or call center. He also advised them to come early to the terminal.

“Kung ang oras po ng kanilang biyahe ay alas singko ng umaga, mga 30 minutes before dapat nandoon na sila sa terminal,” Briones said.

“We will check their medical certificate, their travel pass. We will check their temperature. We will make sure that their hands are sanitized,” he added. —KBK, GMA News