We Looked Through Our Crystal Ball and Here's What It Predicts Might Happen If Buses and Trains Start Operating Again
We might need those inflatable bubbles.
(SPOT.ph) Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade revealed on April 22 the possibility that public transportation may resume operations sooner than expected. Studies were submitted by newly appointed National Economic and Development Authority Acting Secretary Karl Chua on April 20, but the move is still subject to Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19's approval. According to Tugade, social distancing will still be observed.
How would that look exactly? With the help of our handy crystal ball, we imagine some scenarios:
You wake up at 1 a.m. to get to your 8 a.m. shift
Still remember the "commuting challenge" that Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo took on in October 2019? He traveled for nearly four hours from Marikina to Manila, and that's already with the help of people trying to hail a jeepney for him and a habal-habal that got him to his office just in the nick of time. With partial operations of buses and trains, you may want to consider the possibility that getting to work might take longer—about six hours.
Tugade explained that buses and the train lines can operate only at 30% capacity in order to maintain social distance between passengers. That requires more time lining up at the ticketing booth or terminal, lengthens your waiting time before you can hop on a bus or a train, and adds more hours (not minutes, hours) to being stuck in traffic with more half-empty buses on the road.
If you get off work at 6 p.m., you might get home at 12 a.m.—which means one hour of sleep before you wake up and start another day of commuting…er, we mean working.
Almost everyone will be sent home
One of the measures that will be taken when partial operations resume for public transportation is that there will be temperature checks at the terminals and stations. With heat index reaching 42 degrees these days, it’s impossible that your own body temperature will remain at the normal reading of 36 to 37 degrees. You’ve been out in the sun, after all, lining up to get to the MRT platform or waiting for a half-empty bus you can get on. A slightly higher reading may be seen as a COVID-19 symptom, so you might just be prohibited from getting on any form of public transportation. More sleep for you, at least.
Someone will be wearing spikes
You know those spikes that you see on soccer shoes? Imagine more of those, but longer and placed all over your clothes to create a safe distance between you and another person. Another option is an inflatable bubble that you can wear. They did say to practice social distancing, right?
Or maybe wearing full-body PPE
According to scientists, SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted through direct contact with droplets from an infected person's mouth when they cough or sneeze. The worse thing about it is that these particles "can remain aloft for a considerable amount of time." So you may not be beside an infected person right now, but you may be breathing in the same droplets that an infected person let out five minutes prior in the same place. Donning a personal protective equipment while commuting may not be such a bad idea, after all.
Social distancing will be next to impossible during rush hour
We saw it on the first workday of the Metro Manila community quarantine. On March 16, workers still had to get to work and be able to put food on the table. Photos from that day showed that social distancing is next to impossible as people crammed themselves into every possible space inside buses and jeepneys (which were less in number on that day), lined up along the sidewalks, or even walked hours to get to work.
Main photo from MouthsOfMums.com.au