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Philippines eyes two-wheel public transport after lockdown

Riding bikes, motorcycles seen as safer option to avoid contracting coronavirus

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Philippines eyes two-wheel public transport after lockdown

Commuters queue to ride the light rail transit system in Manila. (Photo: Jay Directo/AFP)

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Transport authorities in the Philippines say they will include bicycles and motorcycles as part of the country’s public transport system once Covid-19 lockdowns are lifted on May 15.

These modes of transport enable people to get around easily and better observe social distancing rules, a senior transport official said on May 6.   

“Bicycles and motorbikes will play an important role because our train system cannot handle all commuters due to social distancing rules. It is also safer to ride on bikes or motorcycles because people will naturally be distant from each other,” Assistant Transport Secretary Steve Pastor said.

City officials are preparing special bike lanes and stations along national highways for public safety, he said. Provinces outside Manila are already encouraging people to ride bikes to work.

Transport authorities said the two-wheel transport scheme seeks to head off a pending mass transit crisis in Manila when at least 110,000 people are allowed to return to work but must also abide by strict social distancing rules.

The transport department has warned commuters they could have to wait 2-3 hours before boarding a train due to thermal scanning and physical distancing rules.

“We only have three rail systems in Manila. Even without Covid, train services cannot serve commuters adequately ... With all these social distancing rules, it is better to ride a motorbike to work,” said Danilo Verzosa, a daily commuter.

Meanwhile, Manila Archdiocese has released guidelines for religious services in all Manila churches.

One rule will be to have specific entry and exit points so that “people entering do not bump into people exiting.” All entrances and exits should also have footbath containers [with chlorine] and hand sanitizers.

There will also be a “sanitization ministry” whose job is to keep the church and altar vessels clean and virus free.

The archdiocese said the guidelines are necessary if services are to take place during this “extraordinary situation.”

As of May 6, the Philippines had recorded 10,004 Covid-19 cases with 658 deaths, according to government figures.

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