Office of the Vice President of the Philippines
Best Practice Focus Area/s
Strategy, Citizens / Customers
This is a GBPR Entry
Imposing Modified/Enhanced Community Quarantine (M/ECQ) by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Metro Manila and Cebu left thousands of frontliners stranded as mass public transportation ground to a halt. The Office of the Vice President (OVP) launched the Free Shuttle Service for Frontliners to cater to these frontliners and other passengers who had no means to get to their places of work or their homes after their shift. A total of 33,174 passengers, mostly from the health sector, were able to avail themselves of the OVP’s free shuttle and ferry service initiative in Metro Manila and Cebu.
Background and Problem
After the ECQ was imposed on the entire island of Luzon and other provinces, including Cebu, thousands of medical workers and other frontliners were left stranded due to the suspension of mass public transportation. This resulted in a public outcry on social media and other platforms that immediately caught the attention of the OVP. Sensing the urgency to address the problem, the OVP tapped its private and civil society partners to carefully plan and execute a collaborative effort to provide an effective, responsive, and safe transportation service for stranded health workers and frontliners, and regular commuters.
Two (2) days after the announcement of the community quarantine, the OVP’s Free Shuttle Service for Frontliners was officially launched in Metro Manila, initially with six (6) routes. Meanwhile, in Cebu, the then-2nd epicenter of COVID-19, the same land transportation service was provided to essential workers under the Bayanihan Sugbuanon initiative with four (4) routes servicing the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Consolacion, Talamban, and Naga. This was complemented by a free ferry service for essential workers and patients from nearby islands who needed in and out access to Cebu City.
Solution and Impact
In addressing the transportation challenges brought about by the Luzon-wide ECQ, the OVP worked with its partner organizations, volunteers, and staff to ensure the initiative’s success. The OVP’s Angat Buhay partners from the private sector offered their vehicles/buses for the initiative. The OVP employees and private individuals volunteered as bus conductors, dispatchers, and support staff to operationalize the shuttle service. This collaboration made it possible to launch the initiative two (2) days after the Luzon-wide ECQ was announced.
The areas where stranded passengers congregated, designated COVID-19 referral hospitals, shifting schedule of medical workers, feedback and requests received from social media, and regular debriefing sessions with the volunteers were considered in setting and adjusting bus routes, pickup and drop-off points, and schedule. This made the shuttle service responsive to the needs of the frontliners and commuters.
Preventive measures and protocols were put in place in compliance with the prescribed health and safety protocols by the IATF-EID. This included wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) by the bus drivers and conductors, regular disinfection of the buses, ensuring physical distancing while inside the bus, and the conduct of temperature checks and contact tracing, including the use of QR codes for contactless registration. By providing free shuttle service to thousands of health workers and frontliners, the OVP supplemented the national government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic’s negative impacts, specifically in the transportation sector. Through this initiative, the mobilization of health workers and other frontliners around the Metro became safe, free, and reliable during the ECQ.
Two (2) days after the announcement of the Luzon-wide ECQ, the OVP launched the first phase of the Free Shuttle Service initiative for Metro Manila. For twenty-six (26) days (18 March 2020 to 14 April 2020, except Holy Thursday and Good Friday), a total of 11,429 passengers, or an average of 440 per day, were served by the eight (8) routes of the shuttle service.
They later replicated the initiative in Cebu through the Bayanihan Sugbuanon initiative, with four (4) routes servicing passengers from Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Consolacion, Talamban, and Naga. For 30 days (06 July 2020 to 08 August 2020), the shuttle service served 11,768 passengers for an average of 392 per day. Free Ferry Service was also offered in Cebu with five (5) trips per day servicing passengers from Mactan and Olango Island. For fifty-six (56) days (10 July 2020 to 12 September 2020), the ferry service served a total of 1,022 passengers.
When Metro Manila was placed under MECQ, the Free Shuttle Service was again activated to cater to the transportation needs of medical frontliners. For fifteen(15) days (04-18 August 2020), a total of 8,800 passengers, or an average of 587 per day, were served by the shuttle service covering the same eight (8) routes offered during the first phase. Another route was later added, which ran for eight days (14-21 August 2020) and served a total of 155 passengers, or an average of 19 passengers per day.
Overall, a total of 33,174 passengers benefitted from the Free Shuttle and Ferry Services of the OVP.