MANILA, Philippines – Are you among the thousands who are expected to travel during the Semana Santa?
Transportation officials are expecting travels to and from provinces – whether by land, sea, and air – to start as early as Saturday, March 24, before Palm Sunday. They are expected to peak by Holy Wednesday, March 28. (READ: Why Holy Week has no fixed dates)
In a press briefing on Thursday, March 22, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Commuter Affairs Elvira Medina gave some tips for those hitting the road during Holy Week.
Know your rights
Safety is the responsibility of both the transportation agency and the commuters themselves.
"Our most important mandate is to ensure safety, convenience, and comfort for our commuters. But it's important that we know our rights as passengers as well," Medina said in Filipino. (READ: Road safety awareness)
Medina said that passengers should be brought to destinations "properly" by the driver that is not under the influence of drugs or even lacking sleep. Passengers should always assert their right to pay the right fare.
She also said that senior citizens and people with disability (PWD) should always assert their right to be prioritized and to sit in designated seats for them.
Don't ride 'colorum' vehicles
Medina reminded passengers to never ride colorum vehicles, despite the long wait in terminals.
She said passengers should only patronize vehicles with registered franchise from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
"Let's not patronize colorum vehicles. When the unfortunate happens, we will have difficulty in reporting them to authorities because they don't have franchise. We cannot run after insurance as well because they don't have that for sure," she told Rappler.
Load and unload in terminals
Medina also urged commuters to ride or get off only in designated bays or terminals.
"Many commuters wait for buses in areas where they shouldn't. Sometimes they get robbed by holduppers or by snatchers," she said.
"Let's not block or hail vehicles in unauthorized areas," she added. (READ: On road safety and courtesy)
Know the hotlines
Medina said they launched a hotline where commuters can easily reach the transportation department should they encounter problems.
Commuters can call them via landline by dialling 7890. Medina said phone calls are free of charge, and will be attended to 24/7.
Alternatively, here are the other landlines:
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Hotline
Philippine National Police (PNP) Hotline Patrol
117 or send TXT PNP to 2920
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA)
Trunkline: (02) 882-4151 to 77 loc. 1169 (road emergency), 1016 (Metrobase)
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)
2920 (mobile); 165-02 (landline)
Red Cross Hotline
143, (02) 790-2329
North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) hotlines
(02) 479-3000 and 0918 906 1401; Twitter: @NLEXtraffic
Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) hotlines
(0920) 96-SCTEX (72839) (traffic hotline) or (045) 459-0522
Skyway System Hotline
0917 539 8762; 02 318-8655; Twitter: @SkywaySOMCO
South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) hotline
0917-687-7539 (globe), (049) 508-7539, (02) 584-4389
Philippine Coast Guard
527-8482 to 89
Transportation officials said help desks and first aid stations will be put up in terminals.
The Philippine Ports Authority will also make sure charging stations and drinking water will be available for commuters waiting in ports.
For those waiting at bus terminals, officials said they are prepared for the influx of commuters and will set up tents and seats so passengers do not have to wait under the sun.
Inspections in different ports and terminals are ongoing, officials said.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) suspended the number coding scheme around Metro Manila for city and provincial buses on March 28 and April 2, to accommodate the volume of traffic travelling to and from provinces. – Rappler.com
See the Holy Week schedules here: