A gradual and calibrated reopening of public transport in Bicol is expected to start in January 2021 following the passage of the Bicol Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Resolution No. 26 Approving the Resumption of Public Transportation in Bicol on December 1, 2020. The resolution supports the initiative of the Regional Task Force (RTF) Economy Cluster when it endorsed Resolution No. 10 to BIATF Allowing Public Vehicles to Resume Inter-provincial and Interregional Travel as one of the measures to revive the local economy amidst COVID-19 pandemic socioeconomic challenges.
As an initial phase of the implementation, a total of five buses per day was approved to operate in Legazpi City (2 buses), Tabaco City (one bus), and Pioduran (2 buses) in the province of Albay. The local chief executives expressed support to the operation of the limited number of buses considering their capacity to oversee the quarantine requirements of the passengers. Daily trips will be from point to point, i.e. from Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange to the designated drop off destination in each city or municipality. A ‘No pick-up of passengers during the trip’ policy will be strictly observed. These are some of the provisions under the approved Regional Guidelines on the Resumption of Public Transportation initially formulated by the Economy Cluster mainly considering the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-051 Guidelines for the Operations of Provincial PUBs To and From Metro Manila during the Period of General Community Quarantine (GCQ)/ Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ). The regional guidelines aims to standardize the protocols, public buses operational procedures, travel requirements, among others, to avoid confusions and possible issues on its compliance.
“It’s about time to open our public transportation not only to help the entrepreneurs cope with the constraints in the delayed arrival of materials necessary for business to operate and to respond to the demands of the transportation groups but also to protect the general public from the rise of ‘colorum’ vehicle owners which impose excessive transportation fees,” BIATF Chairperson Atty. Anthony C. Nuyda of DILG Region 5 said in a BIATF meeting.
The reopening of public transport became final after a series of BIATF meetings and consultations with the local government units in Bicol in September until November 2020 to seek the support of all stakeholders. At the end of the day, everyone wanted to achieve a balancing of economic interest and health security of all Bicolanos.