Informing the public on the next steps of the government regarding the situation of the State is crucial in ensuring transparency and accountability. Even before COVID-19, commuters experience ordeals every day in catching rides going from one place to another. The threat of acquiring the virus even made it more dangerous for commuters to take public transport vehicles.
In line with this, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been proactive in augmenting the gaps vis-à-vis their services to the public by slowly introducing solutions to the public transportation distress of the people. On 23 May 2020, a webinar entitled “Road Transport, Infrastructure, and the Future of the Philippine Railway System” was held. The purpose of the webinar is to provide the general public information as to how the public transport system and infrastructure in the country may be improved and adapt to the COVID-19 new normal. With the health and economic crisis that the country is facing, solving public transportation-related issues is one of the many ways for a just transition to ensue.
The webinar covered discussions regarding (a) the stimulus package proposed by the DOTr to the Congress which will provide financial assistance to drivers, operators, transport companies and cooperatives as well as for the Road Transport Industry Stakeholders; (b) protocols on the new normal road-based transportation; (c) health check and sanitary guidelines for public transport operations; and (d) passenger capacity for all kinds of public. Moreover, the medium to long term plans for the future of the Philippine Railway System has also been laid down. To address the congestion problem in NCR and minimize the spread of virus, there will be a move to widen the access of commuters to public railway transport and utilize existing infrastructures outside the metro. These plans also aim to reduce the number of private cars on the road by convincing people to take the public transportation instead, therefore decongesting the road. Aside from these, a 5.5 kilometer stretch of elevated walkway will be constructed along EDSA which aims to encourage people to walk if their destination is of walking distance only from where they will be coming from.
The modernization plans of DOTr will support the commuters by easing their concerns related to public transportation. With the right execution of the plans laid down, it will facilitate the better movement of people in the mass public transportation.
The COVID-19 Action Network (CAN) is a Non-Governmental Organization composed of former government officials and various experts from the academe and private sector.
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