Health workers in Metro Manila to get free rides

March 18, 2020

Health workers will be given free rides to several hospitals in Metro Manila beginning Wednesday as part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) solution to the total public transportation ban in connection with the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

​In a Facebook post, the DOTr thanked the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and its partners in the private sector for providing the buses that would provide free transportation to health workers.

​“The DOTr would like to convey its appreciation to the PCG, DPWH, San Agustin and HM Transit who helped provide buses to ferry our health workers to hospitals.

​The DOTr said a total of 10 buses were initially deployed beginning 7 a.m. to serve three routes starting at two pick-up points: the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) and at the Bayani Fernando Central Terminal (BFCT) in Marikina City.

The first route will begin at PITX and its buses will drop off passengers at the Makati Medical Center, Saint Luke’s MedicalCenter in Bonifacio Global City, Rizal Medical Center, The Medical City-Ortigas, East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and finally ending at the Quezon City General Hospital.

​The second, beginning as well at the PITX, would pass through the Pasay City General Hospital, Adventist Medical Center Manila, Philippine General Hospital, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Manila Doctors Hospital, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, and last stop at the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center.

​The third route will begin at the BFCT and will drop off passengers at the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Providence Hospital, Capitol Medical Center, Saint Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, and finally at the San Lazaro Hospital.

​In a message, DOTr Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran said there may be additional routes or changes to the existing ones for better accessibility to passengers. ​“PITX and BFCT are just the initial routes. We are realigning the routes to make them more accessible,” Libiran said.

​In a media bulletin, the DOTr said the bus service will comply with containment protocols of the Department of Health (DOH) such as social distancing, body temperature checks, and regular disinfection of vehicles.

​In response to DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade’s call for solidarity amid the nationwide crisis, Grab Philippines President Brian Cu also committed to providing free transportation for health workers to identified hospitals, with details on the arrangement to be announced soon.

For officials and members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the DOTr will set up an operations center and a motor pool for the mobility of its members during the Luzon-wide quarantine period.

"We are racing against time to contain this deadly virus. So, this initiative will truly help our front liners do their jobs as they are the ones who are strenuously and heroically holding the line to keep our country safe. Let us do this now," Tugade said.

​In a meeting on Tuesday, the IATF-EID ordered the DOTr to develop a point-to-point transport system specifically for health workers.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon on enhanced community quarantine which means imposing strict home quarantine in all households, suspension of mass transportation, strict regulations of food and health services, and enforcement of quarantine procedures by uniformed personnel.