Resumption of provincial bus operations urged

TARGET PERIOD: MARCH

THE provincial government had endorsed the request of three bus companies for special permits from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board that will allow them to resume their inter-provincial operations from Pangasinan to Metro Manila and vice versa.

This was confirmed by Provincial Legal Officer Geraldine Baniqued who said Governor Amado Espino III had written to LTFRB Region 1 Regional Director Nasrudin Talipasan of  LTFRB on December 29, 2020 endorsing the requested reopening of inter-provincial bus operations.

But to date, LTFRB has not acted on the requests of Five Star Bus Co,, Inc. Victory Liner Inc. and First North Luzon Transit, Inc. to be issued permits to resume operations and Baniqued attributes it possibly to the long documentary requirements per guidelines listed in LFTRB’s LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2020-051,

Five Star Bus sought special permits for routes Bolinao to Quezon City; Bolinao to Pasay City; Anda to Balintawak, Quezon City; Agno to Balintawak, Quezon City; Tayug to Quezon City and San Carlos City to Quezon City.

Victory Liner wants to resume operations for routes: Lingayen to Quezon City, Alaminos  City to Cubao, Quezon City, while First Luzon Transit is seeking permission to resume operations for routes San Carlos City to Balintawak, Quezon City; San Manuel  to
Balintawak, Quezon City; and Urbiztondo to Balintawak, Quezon City.

The three bus companies stopped operations when Luzon was placed under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) by the national Inter-Agency Task Force in March last year.

While Baniqued expressed hope that LTFRB will approve the request by March, she foresees a challenge during  the implementation where bus trips would be delayed due to strict control borders, especially at the provincial borders.

In endorsing the request of the three bus companies, the provincial government recommended  the following conditions:

  1. Trips shall be ‘point-to-point’ only: no passenger may be picked or dropped off beyond designated points during trips. 2. Prior thermal scanning shall be conducted, where persons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 are to be referred to the nearest facility;
    3. Alcohol dispensers and other sanitation devices are to be made available inside the bus, for ready use of passengers and the bus personnel. 4. Bus units must be disinfected at least once for every six hours;

    5. Physical distancing of at least one meter must be maintained between passengers; 6. Semi-permeable barriers between driver and passengers must be installed; 7. Drivers, conductors, and dispatchers are to be tested (RT-PCR) periodically; and 8. Wearing of face shields and face masks is mandatory for bus passengers and personnel.

    In addition, all passengers must submit accomplished health declaration forms, along with other documentary requirements for travel. The forms must contain passenger information, such as name, age, address of destination, contact details, time and date of travel for purposes of contact-tracing.

    To avoid overcrowding of terminals, the provincial government suggested that an online system be adopted for the accomplishment and submission of health declaration forms and which data are to be submitted at exit/entry points of the border checkpoints of the province. (Leonardo Micua/Ahikam Pasion)

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