The Department of Transportation (DOTr) today said that the MRT-3 would operate fewer trains starting July 6 after 127 train personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus.
DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan said in a briefing that 124 of those infected are train depot personnel who work for the MRT-3’s maintenance provider Sumitomo-Mitsubishi. The remaining three people are railway employees. Batan said that Sumitomo will advise the government about the number of trains that would remain operational.
In its statement today, DOTr said that more buses would be deployed to make up for fewer trains. Bus stops are located between North Avenue to Ayala Station, and at least 100 vehicles have carried passengers between 5:30am to 8pm since early June.
The management added that the number of staff working at the train station has also been reduced.
“MRT-3 is already operating with only 13 percent of its capacity due to the physical-distancing rule aimed at limiting both the staff and passenger’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 and curbing the spread of the viral disease,” said the transportation department.
The DOTr said that it would also require staff, including ticket sellers and janitorial services, to wear full personal protective gear to prevent the spread of the virus. Train employees are also required to declare their health status twice a day, as well as mention any possible COVID-19 symptoms that they have, to ensure that they are fit to work. The authorities also plan to disinfect MRT trains and stations regularly.
The decades-old MRT-3, infamous for breaking down regularly, services the metro’s nearly 13 million population. Train operations were suspended nearly three months after the capital went on lockdown mid-March. MRT-3, along with other public transport in Metro Manila, has been allowed to resume operations at half of its usual capacity since last month.
According to the management, MRT-3 reached its highest ridership on Monday since it resumed its operations in June. About 67,821 passengers used the service, far lower than its roughly 350,000 riders before the lockdown was imposed.