Last week, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) announced that all Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) in General Community Quarantine (GCQ) areas can now operate. This comes after the IATF declared that all forms of public transportation (i.e. bus, jeepney, tricycle, and public shuttles) in low-risk areas can ply the roads.

But in order to ensure the safety of the riding public (as well as TNVS and taxi drivers), the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) announced that TNVS operators are required to have electronic means of payment.

Under Memorandum Circular 2020-018, the LTFRB states that bookings and payments must be made “strictly through an online facility or electronic payment only”. Not only that, but all taxis and TNVS vehicles must also have a valid certificate of public convenience (CPC) or provisional authority (PA) to operate with an “internet/web-based app provided by an accredited TNC, for purposes of booking and online payment transactions.”

Meanwhile, 'street-hailed' taxis must have their meters calibrated and enrolled/registered with electronic payment services to provide cashless transactions. To ensure the safety of both taxi drivers and passengers, taxis are also required to have a dashboard camera, CCTV, and a global positioning satellite system. Finally, TNVS units and taxis must have a valid personal passenger insurance policy.

Other conditions that the LTFRB requires TNVS units and taxis to operate in GCQ areas include daily recording of passengers for contact tracing purposes, the requirement of drivers and commuters to wear face masks at all times, all touch-points in the vehicle must be disinfected each trip, vehicles must be disinfected after every 2 hours, driver compartment must be sealed off from passenger area, passenger capacity must be followed (1 in the front, 2 in the back only), constant body temperature check by the driver.

With the country slowly adjusting to the new normal, public transportation has to adapt in order to avoid spreading COVID-19. With GCQ areas deemed as low-risk, going with cashless forms of payment means there will be fewer chances of the virus spreading through contact transmission.