‘Shuttles not enough’: Mobility advocates push for safe public transport for frontliners during MECQ

With Mega Manila making the shift back to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), many are once again grappling with the question of how they can go to work given limited public transportation options.

Under MECQ, only shuttle services for employees, P2P transport, private transportation, and limited international flights are allowed for transportation.

Mega Manila’s shift to MECQ comes after the Philippines’ health workers warned that the nation was losing its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

While the shift was necessary, the Move as One Coalition, a group of mobility advocates, asserted how health and economic systems will continue to “collapse” if essential workers cannot get to work.

The government’s guidelines for transportation may pose hurdles to essential workers who do not have access to a private shuttle or a car. The Move as One Coalition added how private shuttles and the national government's “Libreng Sakay” services are also not enough, as they only serve 1-5% of trip demand.

To help government ensure “safe, sufficient, and stable” public transport for frontliners, the Move as One Coalition proposed 5 action points that could be done during the two-week MECQ:

  1. Release of minimum public health standards in transport following latest medical evidence on ventilation to prevent possible aerosol transmission of COVID-19
  2. Implementation of service contracting to ensure public transport supply is compliant with physical distancing and health regulations set by the Department of Health and Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, and that they operate in a sustainable way. National government can also help support local government units to pursue service contracting pilot runs and install common disinfection stations for public transport.
  3. Installation of networks of protected bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure to expand people’s mobility options
  4. Rollout of emergency subsidies for transport workers to help feed their families after not earning income for 5 months because of the suspension of public transportation
  5. Immediate funding of the above public transportation programs under the Bayanihan 2 Bill or ARISE Bill. 

– Rappler.com