DOTr: Physical distancing among commuters to be “optimized” starting Monday, Sept. 14, to allow for more passengers inside public modes of transport

(Eagle News)–More passengers are expected to be allowed in each mode of public transportation starting Monday, Sept. 14.

In a statement, the Department of Transportation said this was after the  Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID)  approved the proposal  by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) and the DOTr to “optimize” or reduce the physical distance among commuters.

The DOTr said according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, the proposal also got the approval and support from the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19.

Under the proposal,  the transport department said it was “receptive to” an initial optimization of the physical distancing measure being enforced inside public transport units to .75 meters.

After two weeks, this could be further “optimized” to 0.5 meters and then to 0.3 meters after another two weeks.

In a presentation made in a recent IATF-EID meeting, the DOTr said the “optimization” was possible with strict health protocols now being enforced to contain the spread of COVID-19 such as the mandatory use of face masks and face shields by commuters.

The EDC, in consultation with health experts, also noted the importance of  the ban on  talking or making phone calls while onboard public transport.

Below is the adjusted passenger capacity of railway lines with the corresponding  reduced physical distancing per train set:

1-meter reduction: 155 passengers
0.75-meter reduction: 204 passengers
0.5-meter reduction: 255 passengers
0.3-meter reduction: 300 passengers

1-meter reduction: 160 passengers
0.75-meter reduction: 212 passengers
0.5-meter reduction: 274 passengers
0.3-meter reduction: 502 passengers

1-meter reduction: 153 passengers
0.75-meter reduction: 204 passengers
0.5-meter reduction: 255 passengers
0.3-meter reduction: 286 passengers

1-meter reduction: 166 passengers
0.75-meter reduction: 184 passengers
0.5-meter reduction: 256 passengers
0.3-meter reduction: 320 passengers

For class 2 modern public utility vehicles and public utility buses, the DOTr said “optimizing” the physical distance among passengers inside the vehicles will mean that standing passengers may be accommodated.

This means more passengers may also be allowed in airports and seaports.

There may also be an increase in the passenger load capacity on roll on-roll off passenger vessels, as follows:

1-meter reduction: 50% passenger capacity allowed
0.75-meter reduction: 75% passenger capacity allowed
0.5-meter reduction: 85% passenger capacity allowed
0.3-meter reduction: 100% passenger capacity allowed

“There is a need to safely optimize the carrying capacity of the various public transport modes as Metro Manila and its adjacent areas continue with the transition towards the ‘new normal’ where more workers are expected to return to their re-opened work places and more businesses are expected to resume operations that were stopped during the enforcement of strict quarantine measures,” Tugade said.