This is going to be part of the so-called “new normal”: Passengers using the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 should allot more time for their trip, an official said Wednesday.
MRT3 Director Michael Capat told GMA News that waiting time could last from two to three hours under the new system, compared to 30 minutes before.
Passengers will be required to undergo strict quarantine measures before being allowed entrance to stations. Only three passengers will be allowed to form a line per teller, while six will be allowed per turnstile, Capat added.
This developed as the Department of Transportation said rail operators are ready to serve commuters in a reduced capacity once the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is lifted in Metro Manila.
The MRT3 line runs the length of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue from North EDSA in Quezon City to the Pasay Rotonda area in the south, and served 650,000 passengers daily at its peak before the lockdown.
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,” Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said.
“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,” he added.
Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said each train set of LRT1 can ferry 12 percent or 158 passengers per trip, 10 percent or 160 passengers per trip for LRT2 train set, 13 percent or 153 passengers for MRT-3 train set, while, each PNR train car can carry an average of 148 passengers, with 20 percent of its average capacity in each trip.
The reduction in capacity per train car was based on physical simulations of passengers inside trains maintaining a distance of one meter from each other.
“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,” 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 LRT2 stations, and all PNR stations between Malabon and IRRI. Meanwhile, 34 PNR stations between Tutuban, and Legazpi will start cargo operations after May 7.
The following passengers will not be allowed to enter the station: passengers who are not wearing the proper face mask; passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms or with a registered body temperature of 37.8°C or higher; and 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 will be in place.