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Concepcion proposes transport buses for fully-vaccinated passengers

In the recent meeting with the transport sector last July 21, Presidential Adviser for
Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion tosses the idea of having buses
for fully-vaccinated passengers to increase capacity and augment mobility as we safely re-open
the economy.

“This is very crucial as this will complement our previous request to Health Secretary Duque and
IATF-EID on the proposal of micro-herd immunity and “safe spaces,” where office buildings with
80% fully-vaccinated employees will be allowed to increase operational capacity of up to 100
percent from the current 50 percent,” Concepcion said.

According to Concepcion, “Our main objective is to ensure that every passenger can safely
traverse from their homes to workplaces, and vice-versa. Buses with fully-vaccinated
passengers will give greater confidence to the commuting public and as the private sector is
able to achieve micro herd immunity in the workspaces such as in our buildings, safe transport
will also be assured from the home to workplace”

Concepcion has been consulting various sectors, such as the mall and building owners, salons,
restaurants, and retail, among others to create a Roadmap towards the Next Normal.

“Since we are highly expectant of population protection—and ‘micro-herd immunity in
workplaces—in the goal of attaining herd immunity, it then raises the question: how are we
going to provide safe, hassle-free transportation to our employees returning to work?” With this,
Concepcion emphasized the significance of crafting solutions at the soonest possible time as
part of preparing to cater employees who are starting to step out of their usual work-from-home
mode,” Concepcion added.

Meanwhile, Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Nangangasiwa ng Panlalawigang Bus sa Pilipinas, Inc.
(NSNPBPI) President Atty. Vincent Rondaris welcomed the dialogue and expressed his
gratitude to Concepcion, saying the discussion provided an avenue for the transport sector to
finally be able to air their concerns.

“We feel that we are a forgotten sector and we know that we perform a very critical service to
our people.” said Rondaris, who shared how the transportation sector remains badly hit by the
pandemic as the lockdowns and current policies have kept most public transportation units off
the road.

“We want our employees to be 100 percent vaccinated. Karamihan naman po sa kanila ay nasa
probinsya. Gusto po naming ‘yung mga bakuna, mapabilis ang deployment sa probinsya para
ang mga empleyado namin ay mabakunahan na,” he added.

General Manager and President of Victory Liner Marivic del Pilar stressed, “Right now, contrary
to what people think na walang public transportation, is because all of us are not being allowed
to resume operations. Right now, for the routes that are open only 20 percent are allowed tooperate with 50 percent capacity. So, the result is a lot of people who work in Metro Manila are
now lined up in our terminal in Caloocan, Pampanga, or Cavite. If we don’t bring back the
supply of buses in Metro [Manila] or in other cities, the convergence ng tao sa mga terminal will
become super-spreaders. It’s a demand and supply issue. We have to allow more buses to ply
to be able to make the ridership not so cramped inside the buses.”

Meanwhile, Alex Yague, Executive Director of Provincial Bus Operators Association of the
Philippines lauded the proposal to boost vaccination efforts for the transportation sector
because through this measure, they can do away with a costly antigen test and save money

Yague shared as well his call for the government to give drivers and conductors more access to
vaccines because most of them are actually based in the province. He also suggested for the
capacity of passengers in their vehicles to be increased, as well as the augmentation of their
entire franchise system to ensure safety and convenience of their passengers.

Meanwhile, Ria Cauton, General Manager and President of Five Star shared the domino effect
of preventing the country’s provincial buses from operating in their usual route. “The unintended
consequence of not allowing provincial buses to ply [their usual route] is that people have been
using vans that are unregulated and very expensive, thereby hitting the workforce double. By
taking out provincial buses from the equation, people look for alternative, illegal sources of
mobility. Where can you find them? They are just outside our terminals,” she added. In this
regard, Cauton called on the government to allow the provincial buses to operate in their limited
capacity, but still traverse their original routes allowed by the LTFRB during the pre-pandemic

Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) President and CEO Juan Alfonso for his part, said commuters
may not have to be overly concerned about taking public transport because according to
studies, public transportation is not a “super-spreader” and people contract the virus through
other means, he said.

“A Dose of Hope” Program Lead Josephine Romero also said that Go Negosyo is also exploring
ways for allocating some of the private-sector procured vaccines for the transport group as a
way to help the sector.

Concepcion also gave an insight as to what percentage of passengers within the buses’ total
capacity shall be vaccinated, such that those vehicles will be marked as “safe.” We have to
realize that a fully-vaccinated public vehicle steers a higher level of confidence, and it must be
given to the public,” he added. Hence, this may cause a problem since both the vaccinated and
unvaccinated individuals are actually riding the same vehicle, or bus, for an instance. With this,
he pushes for vehicles or buses for fully-vaccinated individuals to boost confidence amongst
employees returning to work.

“We want to know if the private sector really has an exit strategy in this pandemic. This
framework is anchored on the strategy of achieving micro-herd immunity and “safe spaces” inworkplaces. On that note, population protection is targeted to be achieved around September or
October this year, while herd immunity is eyed to be obtained by the end of the year until quarter
1 of 2022, at least for the NCR Plus,” he added.

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