Here's what you need to know about GCQ
It has been 78 days since Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), and since then, the country is now beginning to shift from modified enhanced quarantine (MECQ) to General Community quarantine (GCQ).
Updated guidelines and protocols for public transport is important for commuters to be familiar with the new normal.
Strict implementation for sanitary measures have been set for public transportation in areas under GCQ, such as:
Wearing of face masks at all time. Due to the nature of the virus that spreads via droplets, wearing facial protection with correct materials is a must. People must understand that wearing face masks isn't only for their safety, but also for the safety of the people around them. Wearing a protective mask lessens the probability of the virus to spread to others.
Implementation of no-contact measures such as cashless payments. Under the new normal, cashless payments are the way to go. This method lessens the contact between two people, and helps to stop the spread of the virus and makes an efficient and hassle free travel. Some public transportation operators are already implementing this with card terminals in buses, and others are encouraged to follow suit.
Use of thermal scanners. Having proper checkpoints in public terminals that do routine temperature checks officiated by LGUs and the Philippine national police must be standard.
Availability of alcohol and sanitizers in Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs). Although this is already being practiced in most malls, supermarkets, and office buildings, this is also slowly being implemented in all various kinds of PUVs.
Disinfection of high-touch surfaces of vehicles. A number of operators and drivers are already scheduling routine cleaning and maintenance for their vehicles. Cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle, especially the door handles and seats, should be done at least once or twice a week.
Establishments of disinfection facilities in various public transportation. This helps the operators to keep all their vehicles ready and prepared and for the peace of mind of the passengers.
Contact Tracing. Proper observation of each commuter with the proper tools and implementation benefits the fight for COVID-19 and allows the tracking of infected and possible carriers of the said virus.
There will be two phases to be executed for allowing the operation of the different modes of public transportation
PHASE 1 (June 1 to 21)
Trains and bus augmentation
Taxis, TNVS, Point-to-Point buses, Bicycles
The aforementioned vehicles will be allowed to operate, with LIMITED PASSENGER CAPACITY. Tricycles will also be allowed, subject to the prior approval of the concerned LGU. No provincial buses will be allowed to enter Metro Manila.
PHASE 2 (June 22 to 30)
Utility Buses (PUBs), Modern PUVs, UV Express
The indicated methods of public transport will be allowed to operate, also with limited passenger capacity, along with the initial set of transport modes that were allowed to operate during Phase 1.
To effectively ensure and monitor the limited capacity and passenger load of all the public transport vehicles, the 1-meter social distance rule between persons will be strictly enforced inside all the PUVs and mass transport units, in adherence to health protocols.
In this period, the DOTr will be harnessing the advantages of technology in implementing its initiatives for road-based transport, to minimize physical contact or face-to-face interaction to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The modernization initiatives include the automatic fare collection system (AFCS) for cashless payment transactions, electronic toll collection, and GNSS/GPS.
The DOTr will likewise vigorously pursue and promote online transactions in licensing, registration and other documentary requirements.
A key digital initiative developed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) that will be adopted is the Public Transport Online Processing System (PTOPS), which started to run in the National Capital Region (NCR), since Monday (June 1).
This system will allow transactions to be made online, except the publication and hearing of cases—which will make LTFRB services faster and accessible for all its stakeholders.
There will be other institutional changes which will be implemented in the transition to the new normal such as:
Routes Rationalization for a more effective traffic management. Maintaining traffic in choke points and most populated areas is a must to enable the smooth flow of traffic hence lessens vehicles stuck in checkpoints.
Industry Consolidation to make it more efficient and financially tenable for stakeholders.
Shuttle services. Prevents students and employees from contracting the virus, will also be encouraged;
Promotion of the use of non-motorized transport or use of bicycles to maintain physical distancing, provide environmental and health benefits and promote efficient road space use.
In the current GCQ setting, the DOTr is also set to adopt a system in EDSA where dedicated lanes will be set forth for buses. In addition, the transformation of EDSA will include designated lanes for Bikes, as well as the putting up of Pedestrian Crossing and Bus Boarding Areas in strategic places.