LRT-1 conducts passenger safety, health study as capacity expands

MANILA – The management of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) has conducted a study on the safety and health of passengers aboard trains as capacity in Metro Manila's rail systems gradually increase.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), operator and maintenance provider of the LRT-1, studied the dispersion of bacteria through sneezing and coughing inside trains.

“The study aims to support the safety in trains systems studied from abroad in the local setting,” the LRMC said.

Dr. Louernie de Sales, the person in charge of LRMC’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Quality Department, said the experiment used a GloGerm mist to simulate bacteria of 0.5-micron size through respiratory droplets and does not simulate airborne transmission.

“This study is limited only to the measurement of respiratory droplet dispersion, and the airborne transmission of Covid-19 was not taken into consideration yet. An experiment using SARS-CoV-2 or similar specimen was not carried out for the safety of the researchers and the participants,” de Sales said.

The LRMC said the study, which is undergoing peer review by experts from the University of the Philippines, will be published soon.

The rail management reminded passengers of the seven "commandments on public health measures” such as wearing of face masks and shields, no talking and making phone calls, no eating, keeping vehicles well-ventilated, frequent disinfection, barring those with Covid-19 symptoms, and observing physical distancing.

“According to Spanish health experts from Spain’s National Research Council and Spanish Epidemiological Association, the risk of contagion on buses and trains is low due to the safety measures such as the use of face masks, as well as improved ventilation systems,” the LRMC said.

Researchers from Imperial College London have found no evidence of Covid-19 after it performed experiments across the city’s Tube and bus network, it added.

“Countries such as Japan and France which are highly dependent on transit also did not trace back any infection clusters to public transport,” the LRMC said.

On Monday, the LRT-1, along with other rail services in Metro Manila, has expanded its maximum passenger capacity from the previous 13-18 percent to 30 percent as ordered by the Department of Transportation.

Passenger capacity of rail services will gradually increase to a maximum of 50 percent after President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Economic Development Council on economic recovery. (PNA)

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