Rail operators to serve commuters with reduced capacity once ECQ is lifted in Metro Manila
MANILA, May 6 (PIA) –In its continuous bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in public transport hubs, railway operators are ready to serve commuters in a reduced capacity once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced.
The implementation of a reduced capacity service is in accordance with health protocols, and social distancing measures being enforced by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“We are ready to serve our commuters, in the event that the general community quarantine (GCQ) will be implemented in Metro Manila, and areas covered by our railway networks. We have to follow the social distancing guidelines, and health protocols set by the IATF, meaning, we have to limit our passenger capacity per trip. This is to prevent COVID-19 from spreading while our commuters are in transit,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said each train set of LRT1 can ferry 12% or 158 passengers per trip, 10% or 160 passengers per trip for LRT2 train set, 13% or 153 passengers for MRT-3 train set, while, each PNR train car can carry an average of 148 passengers, with 20% of its average capacity in each trip.
The reduction in capacity per train car was based on physical simulations of passengers inside trains maintaining 1- meter social distancing.
“We have to remember that this protocol aims to prevent the virus from spreading. We want to put an end to this health crisis, as we want to help our frontliners, our essential workers in going to their places of destination during GCQ,” Usec. Batan said.
The rail lines will also reduce passenger concentration in trains, station platforms, concourses, and elevators.
The strict enforcement of the Transport Health Safety Standard covers all LRT1, and MRT-3 stations, eight (8) LRT2 stations, and all PNR stations between Malabon and IRRI. Meanwhile, 34 PNR stations between Tutuban, and Legazpi will start cargo operations after 07 May.
Further, all rail lines shall have markings, signages, tarpaulins, and other forms of information materials to ensure the strict implementation of railway protocols.
“To guide our commuters in observing the required 1-meter social distancing, we are placing markers inside the trains and on station platforms, indicating the required spacing between and among passengers. We are also installing signages and other information materials to remind passengers of the health and safety protocols that are in place,” Usec Batan stressed.
Meanwhile, pursuant to the guidelines mandated by the Department of Health (DOH), the following passengers are not allowed to enter the station: 1) Passengers who are not wearing the proper face mask; 2) Passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms or with a registered body temperature of 37.8°C or higher; and 3) senior citizens, passengers aged 0-20, and those pregnant, due to their susceptibility to COVID-19.
All station personnel are also required to wear face masks, and gloves, while security guards manning the bag inspection area, and the Commuter Welfare Desk (CWD) will have to wear face shields.
Regular disinfection and sanitation of train interiors, station premises and facilities will also be conducted. In addition, hand washing or disinfectant stations are in place in adherence to sanitary measures set by the DOH.
Meanwhile, the DOTr also noted that skip trains, or trains bypassing certain stations, may be implemented to manage passenger volumes, along with a block system for managing the entry of passengers into stations, platform, and into trains.
For his part, Philippine National Railways (PNR) General Manager Junn Magno said: “Rail operators will coordinate with road sector for possible provision of buses to ferry passengers from the train stations.”
Prior to the health crisis, the LRT1 has a daily ridership of 500,000, LRT2 line has 200,000; while the MRT-3 line served around 300,000 passengers per day. (DOTr)