MRT-3 to temporarily stop ops starting tomorrow, July 7, amid increase in COVID-19 cases among train personnel

(Eagle News)–The Metro Rail Transit-3 will temporarily suspend operations starting tomorrow, July 7.

In a statement, the MRT-3 said the temporary suspension approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases would allow for a swab testing of all MRT-3 personnel, including those of its maintenance provider and subcontractors, “to prevent further spread of the disease, and, most importantly, to protect the health and safety of both its personnel and commuters.”

Earlier, the MRT-3 said 186 employees tested positive for the virus, including 11 ticket sellers, two train drivers, two control center personnel and one nurse from Taft station.

The rest, the MRT-3 said, were depot personnel.

The suspension will also allow for a “thorough disinfection of all MRT-3 facilities”  including its depot, stations, and trains, the MRT-3 said.

According to the MRT-3, the suspension is currently for five days, or  until July 11, but this can be shortened or prolonged depending on “the pace and results” of the swab testing, and until the testing “confirms a sufficient number of COVID-19 negative personnel to enable resumption of at least limited operations.”

Out of MRT-3’s more than 3,200 workforce members,  at least 1,300 personnel are needed to resume limited operations.

At present,  964 additional COVID-19-negative personnel are required to resume operations, the MRT-3 said.

The MRT3 said the testing of MRT-3 personnel will be done  by the Philippine Coast Guard at the Palacio de Manila swabbing center with the assistance of the Red Cross.

“Personnel that test positive will be directed to the appropriate government quarantine facility, while those who are confirmed negative will form part of the pool that will operate the system upon resumption of operations,” it said.

To help ferry commuters, the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program will continue with its 90 buses and fixed dispatching interval of every 3 minutes.

In addition, 150 buses will be deployed for the EDSA Busway service.

A mini loop will also run between Timog Ave. and Ortigas to service passengers.

“During this pandemic, the mandate to support the reopening of the economy shall be balanced with the health and safety of the riding oublic, and of our public transport personnel,” the MRT-3 said.