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By Mariejo S. Ramos

The MRT 3 will in­crease its max­i­mum pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity from the cur­rent 13 per­cent to 30 per­cent start­ing Mon­day, as trans­port re­stric­tions are fur­ther re­laxed in Metro Manila.

With this ad­just­ment, each train set will be able to ac­com­mo­date 372 pas­sen­gers per trip, from only 153 pas­sen­gers since June 1.

“The in­crease in train ca­pac­ity is a timely boost for the MRT 3, as the pub­lic de­mands higher num­ber of pub­lic trans­porta­tion in the midst of the COVID-19 pan­demic,” said MRT 3 di­rec­tor for op­er­a­tions Michael Ca­p­ati.

Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Arthur Tu­gade also or­dered the rail sec­tor to in­crease the pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity of trains by up to 30 per­cent, or from around 20 per­cent to 50 per­cent of their orig­i­nal ca­pac­ity, un­der the new pol­icy.

In ad­di­tion to in­creas­ing train ca­pac­ity, Ca­p­ati said they were also work­ing to shorten the wait­ing time and make travel time faster for their pas­sen­gers.

With the in­stal­la­tion of new long-welded rails in all MRT 3 sta­tions, the op­er­at­ing speed for the rail line is ex­pected to grad­u­ally in­crease from 40 kilo­me­ters per hour this month to 50 kph next month and even­tu­ally to 60 kph in De­cem­ber.

The DOTR seeks to in­crease the ca­pac­ity of pub­lic util­ity ve­hi­cles (PUVS) by im­ple­ment­ing the one-seat-apart rule in mass trans­port.

Un­der Land Trans­porta­tion Fran­chis­ing and Reg­u­la­tory Board (LTFRB) Memorandum Cir­cu­lar No. 2020-061, the one­seat-apart rule must be im­ple­mented in all PUVS.

But pas­sen­gers will be al­lowed to sit next to each other pro­vided that a plas­tic bar­rier is in­stalled be­tween their seats.

The LTFRB on Fri­day re­leased the up­dated guide­lines on land-based trans­port as PUVS re­vert to the one-seat­a­part rule from the one-me­ter phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing pro­to­col that was be­ing im­ple­mented in all pub­lic trans­port modes.

The new guide­lines also em­pha­sized that pas­sen­gers should prac­tice ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior in­side the ve­hi­cles, such as the proper wear­ing of mask and face shield, and avoid­ing chat­ting or eat­ing.

IN FILE PHOTO BY NINO JESUS ORBETA: Com­muters on an MRT 3 train sit one-me­ter apart to pre­vent the spread of the new­coro­n­avirus. The MRT 3 will in­crease its max­i­mum pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity from the cur­rent 13 per­cent to 30 per­cent start­ing on Mon­day to ac­com­mo­date more com­muters, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (DOTR).

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