The Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) has posted the highest number of running trains in its history, a total of 22 sets in its main line, as reported in the Department of Transportation (DOTr) MRT-3 official Facebook page. The milestone came only five days after breaking the record of 21 trains deployed.
The MRT-3 management said that augmenting the number of train sets in operation is their main focus, aiming to provide passengers the “best and most efficient service.”
They added that they’re installing new rails and overhauling the light rail vehicles (LRVs) as part of the transport network’s massive rehabilitation, which will be complete by July 2021.
Mass Transport Milestone
On top of the 22 trains deployed, the MRT-3 office reported no unloading incidents in the last three months, since the general community quarantine (GCQ) policy allowed public transportation to resume.
Meanwhile, in the first three months of the year, the period before the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) took effect, the transport network had only four unloading incidents, a sharp decline from the number of occurrences in the same period from 2015 to 2018: 97, 133, 102, and 43, respectively.
The office hopes to see less waiting time for passengers with the improvement of operations.
Tagging the development as a breakthrough, the DOTr acknowledged the need to heighten services in mass transport systems to support the riding public’s new normal needs.
Passenger Safety Protocols
Health and safety remain at the core of the transportation system’s operations, as the threat of coronavirus still looms. The train system recently reverted to the one-meter social distancing rule, in response to President Duterte’s directive, as reported by GMA News Online.
The DOTr previously proposed to ease distancing rules between passengers to increase the ridership capacity of public vehicles and support the return of employees to work. Under the recommended guidelines, distancing will be reduced to 0.75 meters, shrinking every two weeks to 0.5 meters and then 0.3 meters. But the plan didn’t push through as the president decided to retain the one-meter distancing policy.
Given this, 153 passengers can board every train set or 53 per tram.
As implemented before, wearing face masks is mandatory. It’s prohibited to answer phone calls or talk to other people inside the trains to prevent expelling respiratory droplets that could transmit viruses.
For face shields, the MRT-3 management enforces full coverage. Passengers wearing half shields or eye visors will not be allowed to go inside the station and train. The marshals inside the coaches strictly implement wearing of protective equipment all throughout the ride.
New Normal Operations
For MRT-3 management’s part, they continue their efforts to disinfect trains regularly. In July, the management was reported to use the five-minute disinfection hustle in its coaches, inspired by the seven-minute miracle cleaning done in Japan’s Shinkansen trains.
In this health safety protocol, the MRT-3 sanitation team cleans the coaches that arrive in the North Avenue and Taft Avenue stations. All stations have alcohol and sanitation solutions placed in strategic areas, free for passengers and employees to use.
In keeping with the health measures in transportation systems, Senator Francis Tolentino called for the implementation of cashless transactions back in July, Manila Bulletin reported. This came after MRT-3 suspended operations due to the increased number of employees testing positive for the virus.
According to the senator, cashless transactions will help reduce interactions between ticket sellers and commuters while fast-tracking fare collection.
Active Transport Support
Aside from health safety measures, the transportation department supports alternative transportation modes that have become part of the new normal, such as cycling. The DOTr road sector installed a total of 37 bike racks in MRT3 stations.
As reported in this Facebook post, they placed one rack each at Ayala and Taft Avenue, three racks at GMA-Kamuning, and four at Buendia. The North Avenue station has six racks, while Quezon Avenue has three.
Meanwhile, passengers can use four bike racks at Santolan, Shaw Boulevard, and Boni stations. In Cubao, there are three. Ortigas and Guadalupe have two each. One bicycle rack can accommodate five vehicles.
The riding public is free to use the racks every day at MRT-3’s revenue hours. Giving a word of caution, the management urges passengers not to leave valuables.
The DOTr has likewise installed bicycle racks in stations of other public transportation systems, including LRT-1, LRT-2 and PNR.