The Department of Transportation (DOTr) now wants to boost passenger capacity from 50 percent to 100 percent in public transportation, road, and rail, based on available medical literature, with pilot implementation in Metro Manila.


The transport agency declared it is ready to defend its recommendation before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on Oct. 28, 2021.

Already, the DOTr submitted its formal position paper to the IATF on Oct. 26, 2021, said Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor.

The rationale: the agency wants to help drivers and operators amid the pandemic and the continued increase of fuel prices.

“At the same time, we know this is not only a matter of public transportation but also a matter of public health,” Pastor noted.

The DOTr argued that Metro Manila is now under Alert Level 3, which allows for more businesses to open, and more people going out, which results in greater demand for public transport.

Studies proved that complete face mask use and partial hand sanitizer use are enough to contain three very modest COVID-19 waves while preserving normal bus services.

Other studies also revealed that passengers in high-risk zones (seats in the same row with an infected passenger and within 3 rows) had moderate but not significantly higher risk.

“Rigid” safe distancing rules are an oversimplification based on outdated science and experiences of past viruses.

The DOTr stressed that the livelihood of public transport drivers and operators were severely affected with passenger capacity in public transport maintained at 50%.

Increasing passenger capacity will mean a higher revenue for the public transport sector.

This will be a welcome development considering the increase in expenses brought by increasing fuel prices.

Furthermore, Metro Manila is the ideal place to test the DOTr proposal considering that 81.4% of its population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In addition, public utility jeepneys and buses operating in Metro Manila are well-ventilated.

The DOTr had also conducted a rapid analysis of available data on COVID-19 cases (7-day average cases per 1 million population) and public transport capacity, which covered 10 countries (Philippine, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Australia, Vietnam, and Malaysia).

It was found out that public transport capacity has no significant correlation with the number of COVID-19 cases.

Evidence also showed high vaccination rate prompts an increase in allowed PUV capacity.

Source: Manila Bulletin (