MRT to test ‘new normal’ protocols on May 30, 31
MANILA, Philippines — In anticipation of Metro Manila’s shift to the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) starting June 1, the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 management has scheduled a simulation run on May 30 and 31 to test the “new normal” protocols laid out by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
The simulation run, MRT 3 director Michael Capati said during the Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday, was aimed at preparing the busiest railway system in the metropolis should it resume operations for the first time in almost three months.
Metro Manila was placed on lockdown starting March 17, leading to a ban on public transport as a way of stopping the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). But this was expected to be lifted after the region’s possible transition to GCQ next month, allowing the MRT 3 and the other three major railways — the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 and the Philippine National Railways — to reopen.
“We have to embrace the ‘new normal,’ which [necessarily means] physical distancing, from the queue lines to the platforms, and other guidelines like requiring passengers to wear face masks when inside the system,” Capati said.
The number of passengers will also be limited to 150 people per train, while the vulnerable, referring to senior citizens, children below 20 years of age, and pregnant women, will be barred from entry.
Capati, however, said that should they be able to show proof of essential travel, they would be allowed to ride the trains.
To avoid overcrowding and maintain social distancing, the MRT 3 coaches now have markings to remind passengers to sit a meter apart from each other.
Marshals will also be deployed both inside the trains and on the passenger platforms to make sure the rules are being followed.
But while these restrictions were expected to result in longer lines and waiting time, Capati said the rail replacement work for the entire MRT 3 line was now halfway done. As a result, the trains could reach an operational speed of 60 kph by December, reducing headway and making up for reduced passenger capacity.
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