The Department of Transportation announced the temporarily shutdown of MRT-3 operations staring July 7 after the increasing number of personnel who tested positive for COVID-19.
As of July 6, a total of 186 MRT personnel were positive for COVID-19. Of the total, 169 personnel came from MRT3 depot and the remaining 17 from station personnel.
DOTr said temporary shutdown will be undertaken to give way to RT-PCR (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.
The duration of the temporary shutdown is currently for 5 days, or until July 11, 2020, or until RT-PCR testing confirms a sufficient number of COVID-19 negative personnel to enable resumption of at least limited operations.
“This means that the period of the shutdown may be shortened or extended, depending on the pace and results of RT-PCR testing,” DOTr said.
“This also means that operations will resume even if the number of available personnel can only operate a limited number of train sets at the beginning,” it added.
The RT-PCR testing of MRT-3 personnel will be done by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) at the Palacio de Manila swabbing center as well as 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.
Out of MRT-3’s more than 3,200 workforce, it will require at least 1,300 personnel to be able to resume limited operations.
Currently, 964 additional negative personnel are required to resume.
During the temporary shutdown, thorough disinfection of all MRT-3 facilities will be conducted, including its depot, stations, and trains.
To help ferry commuters, the MRT-3 Bus Augmentation Program will continue with 90 buses and fixed dispatching interval of every 3 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.
During this pandemic, the mandate to supoort the reopening of the economy shall be balanced with the health and safety of the riding oublic, and of our public transport personnel.