Jun 1, 2020

“Malaking kasinungalingan ang sinasabi ng IATF, DILG, DOTR, LTFRB at MMDA na kaya ayaw nila payagan pumasada ang mga orig at traditional jeepneys ay dahil daw hindi safe sa COVID-19 dahil daw magkakaharap ang mga pasahero, na kesyo luma na daw,” Progressive transport group, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON) President George San Mateo said in a Facebook post denying government claims that jeepneys are not safe versus COVID-19 that’s why it is still prohibited as NCR transitions to general community quarantine (GCQ).

Passenger jeepneys along San Andres Bukid in Manila install improvised dividers made of used juice boxes as a solution to “social distancing,” implemented in public transports, cutting it’s passenger number to half, in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Photo by Marianne Bermudez/Inquirer

According to San Mateo, the government is taking advantage of the pandemic to phase out old public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and to push for its jeepney modernization plans. “Sa totoo lang, sinasamantala ng gobyerno ang COVID-19 upang iratsada sa gitna ng matinding krisis ang pagpapatupad ng jeepney phase-out at phase-out sa lahat ng mga individual small franchise operators,” San Mateo added.

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Drivers doing the work

In response to Presidential Spokesperson Harry S. Roque’s statement that Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) may allow jeeps to operate in GCQ only if seats were modified, PISTON listed ways in which drivers have been adjusting to ensure the safety of its passengers during the pandemic.

In Baguio, ingenious drivers have devised plastic dividers in their jeep units as early as May 11. Photo by Lauren Alimondo/Sunstar Baguio

These include the installation of dividers and plastic barriers to enforce the recommended minimum physical distance between passengers and to maintain only 50 percent of its capacity. “Dito kinuha ng LTFRB ang ideya at utos nila na maglagay ng plastic divider upang matiyak ang uupuan ng mga pasahero na siyang magtitiyak ng physical distancing.”

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San Mateo also belied the claim that modern jeepneys and mini buses are safer than traditional ones, saying only the class 3 vehicles have front-facing seats while class 1 and 2 only have side-facing seats much like the original jeepney design.

He also cited the government’s inability to prove otherwise that its proposed modern jeepneys are safer despite the fact that these are airconditioned units and therefore runs the risk of circulating contaminated air unlike traditional open-air jeepneys.

“Kung ’yang mga ’yan pinayagan ng gobyerno na pumasada eh mas dapat lalong payagan magbalik-pasada ang mga orig at traditional jeepenys dahil mas ligtas ang pasahero sa jeepneys dahil ito ay open at malayang nakakadaloy ang hangin.”


Post-COVID jeep design

Over the weekend, Taguig-based architect Jaecelle Marie Gecolea proposed a jeepney augmented design that envisioned the post-COVID mode of transport.

In it, Gecolea just reiterated existing practices by jeepney drivers that have garnered praise on social media including the idea to install a pulley-operated pail payment system. In an interview with Inquirer, the architect said she got the inspiration from a viral TikTok post.

jeep
Photo courtesy of architect and product design manager Jaecelle Marie Gecolea of the XYST Collaborative Studio

Among Gecolea’s other recommendations are marking seats for easing contact tracing, dividers made of wood, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic or metal covered with plastic, tarpaulin or other lightweight materials, sanitary alcohol pumps stationed by the entrance and other alternative modes of payment like a tube system, padlocked coin banks and QR codes for mobile payment schemes.

Gecolea said she has already pitched the idea to Taguig LGU for implementation.

Return to work with fewer commute options

“Gayundin sana maawa naman ang gobyerno sana tubuan sila ng budhi at konsensya sa mga milyon-milyung mananakay na dadagsa sa GCQ areas lalo na yung mga karaniwang manggagawa at maralita,” San Mateo said at the end of his post.

“Sila ang mayorya nang mananakay na walang sariling sasakyan na araw araw ay nagtitiyaga na lang maglakad, mag-hitch sa private vehicles o magbiskleta sa gitna ng matinding init ng araw. Mga minimum wage earners ang mayorya sa mga ’yan walang kakayanang mag-taxi o sumakay sa Grab.”

Today, most of the country’s labor force returns to work but with limited options for commuting. As of Jun. 1 only service shuttles, select buses and trains on limited capacity will service these workers. Likewise, the number coding scheme is also lifted for those with their own vehicle.

 

Header photo by Yannes Kiefer on Unsplash

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TAGS: covid-19 gcq george san mateo jeep jeep modernization piston public transportation puj