By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
With the Holy Week exodus approaching, the Department of Transportation and its attached agencies are now preparing to provide safe and comfortable trips among thousands of commuters expected to travel to provinces this Lenten Season.
This was based on the directive given by Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to different agencies under his Department to ensure convenient and safe travel of commuters this Holy Week through their “Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Semana Santa 2018.”
The program, which was activated yesterday, will run until April 5, to provide assistance for the expected influx of thousands of passengers going back to provinces and other holiday destinations.
Representatives from various offices and agencies under the DOTr attended yesterday the launching of the program at the Land Transportation Office in Quezon City led by DOTr Undersecretary for Road and Infrastructure Tim Orbos, where they discussed their preparations before, during, and after the Holy Week exodus.
Orbos cited the recent fatal accident involving a passenger bus in Occidental Mindoro which killed 19 persons and wounded 21 passengers “to remind us what we need to do and the preparation we need for the safety and convenience of the land commuters.”
LTO chief Edgar Galvente said that aside from inspecting the road worthiness of the vehicle, they will also be checking the physical condition of the drivers if they are fit to travel.
Galvante said that they will be forming teams to roam on terminals to checkthe condition of the drivers and check if they are drunk or under the influence of drugs.
“We will be doing this not to apprehend the drivers but to check if they are fit to drive a public utility vehicle to assure the safety of the passengers,” he explained.
On the part of Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, chief Martin Delgra III said that they will be having a regular inspection among bus terminals in Metro Manila.
The LTFRB is also intensifying their anti-colorum crackdown and ‘Oplan Isnabero’, according to Delgra.
As of yesterday, the Board already approved 427 total applications for special permits for the Holy Week which covers 990 units.
For the Aviation Sector, Atty. Manuel Tamayo, Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation, said that series of meetings were held with different airlines to sustain the volume of passengers.
Tamayo also shared the latest achievement of their sector after the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was named as one of the most improved international airport in the world announced during the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2018 held in Stockholm, Sweden on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, security alert was heightened among ports with the joint efforts of Phillipine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Maritime Industry Authority. Additional security guards, K9 Units, and baggage x-ray machines were deployed and installed among seaports for Holy Week.
While the other transport sector are busy for the expected increase of passengers, the railway sector including the Philippine National Railway, and the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) announced that they will be suspending their service starting Maundy Thursday for maintenance works.
The influx of passengers is expected to begin this Palm Sunday and will reach the peak starting Holy Wednesday, and on Easter Sunday where all commuters will be going back to Manila.
Aside from the preparations of the agencies, the DOTr hotline and website will be available 24/7 to assist commuters during the Holy Week exodus.