NCRPO to ensure MRT, LRT coaches carry only 160 per trip

NATIONAL Capital Region Police Office director, Major General Debold M. Sinas, yesterday said they are readying measures to ensure that Metro Railway Transit and Light Railway Transit coaches will only carry a maximum of 160 passengers per trip as part of social distancing protocols and all must wear face masks and undergo a temperature check to prevent further spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

On Tuesday, Sinas and his men, in coordination with LRTA 2 safety and security manager Jimmy Chua held a simulation exercise at the LRT stations to test the operational readiness of the mass transport facility to resume operations under the ‘New Normal.’

The NCRPO chief said they conducted the SIMEX to test the effectivity and applicability of LRTA protocols using NCPRO trainees as ‘test passengers.’

As planned by the LRTA 2, only a total of 160 from the original 1,600 passengers will be accommodated per platform to give way to the effective implementation of new crowd control measures under the general community quarantine.

When it comes to social distancing protocols, the LRT 2 placed ‘one-way yellow lines’ in their stations’ entrances, x-ray machine lines, stairs, platform areas, holding areas, connecting lines, link bridges, payment areas, and other places frequented by passengers.

The ‘yellow lines’ will help guide passengers on the distance that must separate them from other persons in the station.

Prevention and safety measures were likewise installed in LRT stations such as foot baths and disinfecting mats, hand-held metal detectors for searching deadly weapon and other prohibited item and thermal scanners to prevent those with a temperature exceeding 37.8°C from entering the premises.

Alcohol and sanitizing gels were also made available in LRT facilities but  passengers may likewise wash their hands in station toilets with soap and running water.

Sinas said they were elated to see that informational campaign banners, posters, tarpaulines and other visual aids  have been made available within the premises to enhance awareness on safety protocols being implemented inside the station. He said that on top of those initiatives, each LRT train will undergo extensive sanitation procedure upon reaching the last station at the end of every trip.

"Public safety is our primordial concern. Our citizens will be needing public transport to go to work and other places and the LRT is one of the indispensable and fastest mode of transportation in Metro Manila,” said Sinas.

“Surely, most of our people will take this as an option for their daily transport. Hence, we are working in close partnership with LRTA to guarantee  public safety should we finally come to the resumption of public transport," he added.

The MRT-3 is also ready to re-open using the new health protocols, said one of its top officials. According to MRT director for operations Michael Capati, trains that can ferry 1,200 people will only carry up to 153 per trip to ensure physical distancing or a 1-meter gap between passengers and prevent virus transmission.

He added that the entry of passengers into train platforms will be limited with all passengers required to wear face masks and have their temperatures checked.

The MRT-3 is off-limits to pregnant women and those aged below 21 or above 60 -- who are most vulnerable to the disease, the official said. He likewise said that the MRT's 19 train sets will be disinfected twice every trip at the North Avenue and Taft stations.

Sinas on Tuesday led the inspection of security deployment and health protocols inside the Metro Railway Transit and Light Railway Transit stations in Metro Manila as part of their action plan to secure commuters in the event public transport is returned by the government.

The official, joined by his district directors and other top NCRPO officials said he wants to test the security preparedness and COVID-19 preparations of the MRT and LRT thru the conduct of simultaneous simulation exercises aimed at testing ‘first-hand’ the situations that may transpire in these facilities as soon as they are reopened to public under the ‘new normal.’

He also ordered the regular inspection of all Police Assistance Desks established in the transport facilities to help the public. Initial target of the security inspections is the MRT Line 3 from its North Avenue Station to Taft Station in Pasay City.

Sinas guaranteed that NCRPO personnel are ready to assist the rail transit management to ensure the safety of the public.