Modern jeeps, buses allowed back on the road starting June 22

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — Public utility buses, modern public vehicles will be allowed to operate at limited capacity in areas under general community quarantine starting next week, according to the transport agency.

Department of Transportation road sector consultant Bert Suansing told CNN Philippines on Friday that modern jeeps can ferry only up to 20 percent of passenger capacity to ensure the one-meter physical distance rule.

Meanwhile, buses could run at half of their capacity, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in a ‘Laging Handa’ briefing on Saturday, and that the government expects around 3,600 units and 1,600 other vehicles to hit the roads on Monday.

UV Express units, on the other hand, will be allowed up to nine passengers per trip, a transport group leader said Saturday.

The limit may appear stringent but Coalition of Operators and Drivers of UV Express Atbp. (CODEX) President Rosalino Marable said: “Sabi nga nila sa Ingles, ‘Beggars cannot be choosers.’ While we agree with that, very little ang matitira sa ating drivers.”

[Translation: As they say in English: Beggars cannot be choosers. While we agree with that, our drivers will be left with very little income.]

Marable told CNN Philippines’ Newsroom the UV Express drivers are "ready and raring to go back to work" under the new normal after months of work stoppage.

He also said that they will 'push through' with their P2 fare hike proposal, noting that the last increase was 14 years ago.

Mass transportation has been suspended for more than two months now since Luzon and other parts of the country were placed under enhanced community quarantine in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The Department of Transportation earlier said the land transport sector will resume operations in two phases as movement restrictions caused by the COVID-19 crisis were gradually eased.

For phase one, only trains, augmentation buses, taxis, Transport Network Vehicle Service like Grab, shuttle services, point-to-point buses and bicycles were allowed to return to roads to ferry passengers from June 1 to 21. Tricycles are also allowed, subject to prior approval of local governments.

Backrides in motorcycles — even if the passengers are married couples, remain prohibited in GCQ areas.

But the government has said it is conducting studies if traditional jeepneys and motorcycle taxis will be allowed to ply the roads as Metro Manila and other areas under GCQ move to the second phase of reopening public transport.