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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, May 14, 2020
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Seacraft, bus firms prepare
for 50% passenger reduction


Operators of seacrafts and buses in Negros Occidental are eyeing a 50 percent reduction in the number of passengers to be accommodated as part of the “new normal” once they get the go-ahead to resume operations.

Frank Carbon, operator of Weesam Express, said yesterday the city governments of Bacolod and Iloilo, along with officials of Maritime Industry Authority and Philippine Coast Guard, will meet today to decide whether the fastcrafts and Roll-on, Roll-off vessels can already resume operations and start accepting passengers.

Both Bacolod City and Negros Occidental will be placed under modified general community quarantine starting Saturday.

Carbon, also chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that based on the advice of Marina, sea vessel operators have to reduce the passenger capacity during trips to further prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019.

For fastcrafts, seating capacity will be 200 to 250 passengers, while 50 to 100 in Ro-Ro vessels, he said, adding that reducing the seating capacity is also one way to observe physical distancing during the trip.

However, since travel and leisure are the least priorities of people now, they also have to match the operating costs to the volume of passengers coming in. Otherwise, they will lose their business, he added.

“Those who will travel now to Bacolod and Iloilo are usually for business and work,” he said, as he noted that people are still afraid to go out due to the threat brought by the pandemic.

Regardless of the number of passengers, the cost of fuel, manpower, and rent is still the same, so they need to reduce the number of trips per day.

Before Covid-19, the average daily trips of the three fastcrafts at Bredco port are 19 to 20. They are looking to have six departures per day once they are allowed to resume operations.

It would be two trips in the morning, two around noontime, and two in the late afternoon, he said, adding that sea vessel operators will have to talk among themselves about the scheduling of trips.

“We have to reduce the number of trips, and perhaps we might also increase the fare to compensate for the loss. It is hard to operate a business if it is losing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ceres Bus Liner, operated by Vallacar Transit Inc., will only seat 50 percent of its passengers’ capacity once it resumes operations, Jade Marquez-Seballos, VTI legal and media relations manager, said yesterday.

She said the company has already prepared measures, such as putting up of markings on passenger seats, to observe social distancing.

She added they are waiting for the go-ahead of the provincial and city governments to resume operations in Negros.*


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