Baguio jeepneys use plastic sheets for physical distancing

Frank Cimatu
Baguio jeepneys use plastic sheets for physical distancing
Jeepney drivers like James Alias are adjusting to the 'new normal', but he says they'll end up having fewer passengers

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines –  More jeepneys in Baguio City are adopting what one enterprising driver did here over the weekend –  partitioning the seats with clear plastic dividers to apply physical distancing to minimize the possible transmission of the coronavirus among passengers.

Driver James Alias, who is plying the Sto. Tomas – Plaza route, has his jeep partitioned with clear plastic.

“This will be the new normal so more drivers are doing this already,” he said in Ilocano. “The problem is that there will be fewer passengers.”

Alias followed the example set by Billmark Amino, who drives the Dontogan-Plaza route.

Amino and his son, Gideon, installed clear plastic on nylon ropes between the seats. From the usual 10 passengers on each side, however, only 5 can now sit.

SAFETY. A plastic sheet separates the jeepney driver from his passengers in Baguio City. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

Because of the very limited trips allotted to Baguio jeepneys, many are willing to make the sacrifice just to ply their routes.

Some jeepneys in the Aurora Hill and Trancoville barangays (villages) have placed a donation box behind the driver’s seat where passengers can drop any amount.

“We have to help each other in any way,” a driver said.

CHARITY. A jeepney driver of Trancoville, Baguio City placed a donation box inside his jeepney.  Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

The Baguio City government has set up a scheme to help some of the drivers.

About 350 jeepneys with Special Transport Permits will be receiving P300 per scheduled trip or P600 a week as financial assistance. This will be implemented from May 4 to May 15, when the enhanced community quarantine is expected to end.

This came after the Land Transportation Office (LTO) apprehended jeepney drivers who charged passengers P20 –  twice the regular fare –  during market day schedules.

Drivers justified the amount by saying their jeepneys are half the usual capacity because physical  distancing needs to be followed.

With the assistance, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong said that the drivers will have to collect the usual fare of P9 per trip.

Those given the special transport permits have to get a barangay certification. They can also only ferry passengers during the barangay market schedule. 

As of Wednesday, April 29, the number of hospitalized patients in Baguio has gone up to 16. Benguet, which had no case as of Friday, now has 6 COVID-19 patients. (READ: Baguio General Hospital may soon run out of test kits) – Rappler.com

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