DOTr exec tells Binay: ‘Sumasakay din kami sa mga bus at tren’

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Several commuters were forced to hitch ride on a truck after Metro Manila shifted to general community quarantine on June 1, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – A transportation official on Tuesday dismissed Sen. Nancy Binay’s challenge for them to commute to work as more workplaces reopened this week under a relaxed quarantine rule.

Speaking to Teleradyo, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary Alberto Suansing said they already experienced the plight of the commuting public with limited transportation services.

“Lahat ng opisyales ng DOTr, 2 araw nang nakababad sa kalsada. Sumasakay din kami sa mga bus at tren para obserbahan ‘yung mga nagaganap na pangyayari. Hindi na kailangan ‘yung challenge,” he said.

Suansing said Transportation chief Arthur Tugade ordered them to go through the guidelines they set under the general community quarantine.

“Kami’y inutusan ni Secretary [Arthur Tugade] na gawin ‘yun. Gusto niyang makita, maranasan naming ‘yung hirap ng mga pasahero,” he said.

In a statement, the senator criticized the agency’s supposed poor planning of pubic transportation services when the Philippine capital shifted to general community quarantine following a 2-month lockdown.

"Mabuti sila't aircon ang mga sasakyan. Eh kung subukan kaya ng mga opisyal ng DOTr mag-commute mula sa kani-kanilang bahay papasok sa opisina nila?" Binay said.

"Dapat maramdaman nila ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga commuter. They won't be able to plan well if they don't feel and understand the people's daily struggles," the senator added.

Under relaxed rules in the next 2 weeks, train and bus augmentation units, taxis, ride-hailing cars, point-to-point buses, shuttle services and bicycles are allowed in a limited capacity.

The agency will also allow tricycles to operate subject to the approval of local government units, while provincial buses are still barred from entering Metro Manila.

For the second phase in the public transport shift, which will run from June 22 to June 30, public utility buses, modern jeepneys and UV express vans will be allowed to operate, on the condition that people wear masks and observe social distancing.

“Sinadya natin ng DOTr na gano’n ang gawin, calibrated ang pag-introduce ng public transport service. Hindi natin finull blast kaagad,” Suansing said.

The transportation official also told Teleradyo they are identifying more areas to open additional bus routes in Metro Manila.

“He [Tugade] gave an order sa amin na tingnan at pag-aralan ang pag-introduce ng ibang bus routes sa Metro Manila,” Suansing said.

“Makikiusap ako sa ating mga commuters, please bear with us,” he added.

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