MRT-3, bus, P2P get go signal

Some buses will be allowed to ply EDSA starting Monday, but can only pick up and drop off passengers at four points—North Avenue and Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, Ayala Avenue in Makati and Taft Avenue in Pasay City.

READ: Cases surge; GCQ in MM

In an interview with CNN Philippines, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said more work would need to be done on the designated bus stops along EDSA.

“Number 1, we need to clear first the debris because we demolished the center island to serve as loading and unloading areas of P2P buses, shuttle buses, and buses for MRT augmentation,” Pialago told CNN, adding that concrete barriers also have to be placed.

This means that bus stops at the center of EDSA Will not be used yet, she added.

Under a general community quarantine (GCQ), city rail service and trains will resume partial operations in Metro Manila, with bus augmentation. Shuttles of private companies and point-to-point buses can also hit the road.

Train service

The Transportation Department said MRT-3 will operate 19 train sets when it resumes service on June 1, up from 15 that ran before the COVID-19 lockdown in Metro Manila.

The department said operating speed would also be boosted to 40 kilometers per hour, up from 30 kph. This, it said, would reduce headway, or the time between trains, from an average of nine minutes before the lockdown to six minutes.

The improvements were made possible by progress in rail replacement work done during the lockdown, and the addition of train sets to boost capacity.

“Having more trains, faster operating speed, and lower headway are intended to contribute in mitigating the reduction in capacity of MRT-3, which will only be able to accommodate 153 passengers per train set, or 13 percent of its pre-ECQ capacity of 1,182 passengers per train set, due to implementation of 1-meter social distancing inside trains,” said MRT-3 Director for Operation Michael Capati.

Physical distancing markers have been placed inside the 19 train sets, to implement the 1-meter social distancing requirement per IATF and DOH guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Transport Undersecretary for Railways TJ Batan said the MRT-3 was able to replace 9,216 linear meters during the lockdown, bringing the total to 40,140 linear meters out of 65,892 linear meters as of May 28.

“Rail replacement works are expected to be completed by September 2020, several months ahead of its February 2021 target completion date. Following completion of rail replacement works, train operating speed will gradually increase from 40kph to 60kph by December 2020, leading to a reduction of headway, or the time between trains, down to 3.5 minutes,” Batan said.

Completion of rail replacement will also improve the reliability of MRT-3 by lessening vibration, which is a common cause of malfunctions and delays.

Air travel

Philippines carriers are set to roll out a limited number of domestic and international flights after the government placed Metro Manila and other provinces under GCQ starting June 1.

The Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific and Cebgo announced the resumption of passenger flights on June 2,  with a limited number of domestic flights. 

The airline plans to fly between Manila and General Santos, Naga, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu.

“We will continue to work with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), as well as other national and local government authorities, on the rules and requirements to resume commercial passenger flights between areas under GCQ,” Cebu Pacific said.

Cebu Pacific’s International flights remain suspended from June 1 to 30, 2020. 

“We will provide updates on flight schedules from June 5-onwards. We will gradually build-up our domestic flight network, depending on market demand, quarantine restrictions and government regulations,” the airline said.

Philippine Airlines, on the other hand, will resume operating scheduled flights on selected international and domestic routes for the month of June.

The Lucio Tan-led airline said limited international services on routes to the USA, Canada, Guam, Vietnam, mainland China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Japan, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia starting June 8.

The airline will also implement a reduced number of domestic flights on selected routes to and from our hub airport in Manila. These are Manila to Basco, Laoag, Legazpi, Busuanga, Bacolod, Cebu, Dumaguete, Iloilo, Kalibo, Caticlan, Tacloba, Butuan, Cotobato, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Zamboanga and Cebu starting June 8.

“We are happy to be flying again at last, after the longest operational pause in our almost-80-year history (with the exception of World War II),” PAL said.

AirAsia also said it set to gradually resume services in the Philippines on June 3 following the Philippine government’s directive of easing community quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and several parts of the country.

The resumption of services will initially be for key domestic routes and will gradually increase to include international destinations by July 1.

The domestic flights include Manila to Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod. Clark to Tacloban, Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

“During the hibernation of our fleet, we took the time to step up our handling procedures to ensure that our guests have a swift and safe journey with us. Needless to say, we are well prepared to welcome everyone onboard. As we resume our services around our network, AirAsia is determined to help rebuild our economy and country,” Ricky Isla, AirAsia Philippine said.

Despite the plans announced by the carriers, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said Sunday no domestic flight has been approved for the first week of June.

In an advisory dated May 30, CAB said the Inter-Agency Task Force “has yet to approve the routes for domestic air services proposed by airlines for the resumption of domestic operations in the first week of June.”

The CAB added that it advised airlines to cancel their flights on June 1 and to stop selling tickets for the said date.

READ: Palace defends GCQ move, cites need to boost economy

READ: NCR mayors push for GCQ after May 31

Topics: Metropolitan Manila Development Authority , buses , EDSA , COVID-19 lockdown
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