Free rides rolling out in several Metro Manila cities amid mass transport suspension

A Quezon City government bus picks up passengers on Tuesday amid mass transport suspension brought about by the enhanced community quarantine. <I>Photo: Mark Demayo / ABS-CBN News</i>
A Quezon City government bus picks up passengers on Tuesday amid mass transport suspension brought about by the enhanced community quarantine. Photo: Mark Demayo / ABS-CBN News

Several cities in Metro Manila are initiating free bus and shuttle services for exempted workers and residents who need to go out for essentials amid the “enhanced” community quarantine enforced in Luzon.

The enhanced lockdown, under which residents are expected to remain in their homes unless venturing out for essentials, also resulted in the suspended mass transport services, which some federal-level government officials like Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles didn’t appear too concerned about.

“If there is no public transport, then private [vehicles can be used], or you’ll have to walk,” he told reporters last night.

(Gee, thanks for the tip.)

Luckily, city governments are actually doing something proactive. Early today, ABS-CBN News reported that a Quezon City City Hall bus has been picking up passengers along Commonwealth Avenue, prioritizing senior citizens, health workers, and government workers for free rides. The government buses are implementing social distancing during the free pickups.

Mandaluyong City is similarly providing free shuttle services to all medical personnel and frontliners for the duration of the lockdown, and is working on providing housing in condos for government medical staff who live outside the city.

Meanwhile, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said that because the city is using all of its government vehicles to bring health workers and employees of essential services to work, he is allowing motorized tricycles to run limited trips within the city.

Ginagamit natin ang mga sasakyan ng lungsod para sa #LibrengSakay pero kulang na kulang ito. Our risk assessment shows…

Posted by Vico Sotto on Monday, March 16, 2020

The tricycles will be subject to guidelines, such as carrying a limited number of passengers in order to enforce social distancing. Sotto reminded people that only commuters with essential business should use the tricycles for a commute.

Meanwhile, rounding out today’s efforts to ease essential public transport, Vice President Leni Robredo tweeted this afternoon that her team will be offering free rides for health workers and other frontliners starting tomorrow.

Robredo said routes and schedules will be announced on her Twitter page shortly.

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