Gov’t urged to tap public transport in war vs pandemic

April 03, 2020

TO provide needed transport services for health workers and other frontliners, a former Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) Head urged the government to tap public transport, including unregistered or colorum vehicles, in the country’s war against the coronavirus disease  (covid-19) pandemic.

Tim Orbos, former I-ACT Over-all Chairman and Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary for Roads, said swift and unhampered transport for frontliners and other needs is crucial to support the mitigation of the spread of the covid-19.
“Amid the shortage of vehicles to transport frontliners and other medical needs, the government may tap operators/drivers of public utility vehicles, including colorum, to support in this time of crisis,” said Orbos.

“The whole of society must help in this battle against covid-19, not only the government, as all of us are affected,” Orbos added.

Provisionally, PUVs can be marked or labelled so that health care workers and frontliners can easily distinguish them from other vehicles.  Riding capacity of each unit can also be reduced in accordance with the government’s physical distancing measures for the well-being of the riding frontliners during the enhanced community quarantine period.

Colorum vans may also be tapped as alternative ambulances to transport the sick since there is also a shortage in ambulances due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

“When this crisis is finally over, the government can grant colorum operators legitimate franchises,” Orbos suggested.
Based on reports, health workers and frontliners experienced difficulty going to their respective workplaces because of the suspension of public transport during the Luzon-wide enhance community quarantine.

“Some health workers and other frontliner personnel were forced to walk on their way to work since all public utility vehicles were prohibited from operating. While the government offered free rides to ferry them, the number of shuttle services available are not enough to address their mobility needs. More vehicles are needed for the frontliners we hail as modern day heroes,” said Orbos.

With additional vehicles, Orbos said the government can help medical workers fight the virus more effectively and care for their patients well.

Meanwhile, Elmer Argaño, former I-ACT Deputy Executive Director, said now is the most-needed time to help the general public ease their pain from the impacts and consequences of the covid-19 pandemic.

“The physical, emotional, financial and psychological stress this pandemic brings to every Filipino is beyond imagination. The least government transport officials can do is to lighten their burden by adopting out of the box and non-template actions like the activation of public transport providers that we regard as colorum,” said Argaño.

“Not only would we provide calibrated but identifiable transport system to the public in this time of crisis, government will make the people feel it is responsive and is ready to find whatever means possible to make their lives comfortable, despite the odds,” he added.