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On public transport services during the pandemic

April 2020


I’ve read a lot of discussions and recommendations pertaining to public transportation services (mainly its lack thereof) during the Enhanced Community Quarantine aka lockdown in most parts of the Philippines. Problem is, a lot of people had their mobility curtailed as most people did not have their own private vehicles (cars or motorcycles) to do essential trips (i.e., for groceries, market, drugstores, hospitals, etc.). These include so-called frontline workers, most especially those working in hospitals or clinics. Even the use of tricycles on a limited basis while adhering to physical distancing guideline was not allowed in many cities and municipalities. What do we really need to do now and in transition to address the lack of public transport services?

Here is a concise yet very informative article on transit:

Walker, J. (2020) “Cutting Transit Service During the Pandemic: Why? How? And What’s Next?”, Human Transit, [Last accessed: 4/23/2020]

Most of the points discussed and recommendations presented are applicable to our case in the Philippines. We should also accept the fact that we cannot go back to the situation prior to the ECQ, and that the new normal calls for a reduction in car use. Meanwhile, we still have to address the pressing issues and come up with a plan or maybe strategies for public transport that involved not just buses and trains but other modes as well like the jeepneys, vans and tricycles.


  1. enp.tinio says:

    In your view, what is the low hanging fruit?

    • d0ctrine says:

      The buses are already there for the longer commutes prioritizing the frontliners. Services will need to be expanded as demand rises and more people, mostly workers, are allowed to travel to their workplaces (and back). For mobility within the towns, they should allow some tricycles to operate. It cannot be the original numbers, which are excessive. We also should not return to that “normal”.

      • enp.tinio says:

        E-trikes or even regular tricycles?

      • d0ctrine says:

        Both. There aren’t so many of the e-trikes anyway but they also would have to be retrofitted for passengers to be able to observe safe physical distance. The conventional tricycle will have to have only one passenger (in the sidecar). Same for similar e-trikes. For the bigger e-trikes (e.g., the ADB models and BEMACs) it may be possible to have 4 passengers.

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