FOR at least five days beginning Tuesday, July 7, 2020, MRT-3 operations in Metro Manila will temporarily cease because of the increasing number of personnel who have contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the temporary shutdown in a press conference Monday, July 6.
The shutdown will give way to RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) testing of all MRT-3 personnel and thorough disinfection of its facilities.
Also covered by the testing are the maintenance provider and subcontractors. Facilities that will be disinfected include the depot, stations, and trains.
In a statement, the DOTr said the shutdown was decided by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases because of a big number of MRT personnel who have contracted the disease.
As of July 6, 186 personnel have been infected. Of this number, 169 are assigned at the depot while 17 are station personnel.
The shutdown will be for five days but this may be extended as operations will not resume until RT-PCR testing confirms a sufficient number of virus-negative personnel.
At least 1,300 personnel are needed to resume limited operations. MRT-3 has more than 3,200 employees but is currently short by 964 virus-negative people to operate even at limited number of trains.
To help ferry commuters, the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program will continue with 90 buses and fixed dispatching interval of every three minutes.
In addition, 150 buses will be deployed for the Edsa Busway service, carrying passengers between Monumento and the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITx).
A mini loop will also run between Timog Ave. and Ortigas to service passengers, where shuttle services / mini buses will be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at the curbside.
MRT-3, along with LRT 1 and 2 as well as the Philippine National Railways, resumed operations only on June 1, when Metro Manila shifted to general community quarantine. All public transport systems were shut down for more than two months because of the Covid-19 epidemic in the country. (SunStar Philippines from PR)