The second phase of the Department of Transportation’s revival of public transport is beginning this week, with 34 modern jeepney routes approved by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
Although most public transport systems have been allowed to resume operations, traditional jeepney drivers have not been given the go signal—despite them taking the initiative to institute safety protocols in their vehicles.
Supporting these drivers’ cause is research institution Ibon Foundation, which cited studies that indicate open-air transportation is better in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Research by the University of Amsterdam and the Chinese Academy of Sciences show that cough droplets, the ones that potentially carry virus particles, can stay in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
“With COVID-19 still spreading, traditional jeepneys have the advantage of being open-air, dissipating droplets with the virus faster, and lowering the risk of transmission,” Ibon Foundation wrote in their report.
Ibon Foundation added that the push for jeepney modernization might end up doing more harm than good. With recent studies showing that pathogens increase in enclosed spaces, the risk for community transmission can increase with the use of modern jeepneys—despite enforced physical distancing measures.
Ultimately, the research group stressed that the resumption of reliable public transport is necessary to resume normal and economic life. Commuters need transportation to be able to go to work, while jeepney drivers and operators need a way to make up for revenue losses during the pandemic.
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