Virus worry trims LRT-1 ridership by 10 percent: operator

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 04 2020 12:38 PM | Updated as of Feb 04 2020 02:05 PM

MANILA -- Ridership at the LRT-1, which ferries up to half a million passengers daily, was trimmed by 10 percent as a public wary of a new coronavirus strain avoid crowded spaces, its operator said Tuesday.

To ease commuters' worry, LRT-1 guards and ticket sellers were told to wear face masks and sanitize regularly, Light Rail Manila Corp President and CEO Juan Alfonso said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss. 

"Some of our frontliners who sell tickets in stations, we followed the advisory for them to wear masks and also sanitize to prevent the spread of the virus," Alfonso said.

"We’d like to do our part in keeping the system clean and safe for all passengers," he added. 

Transport regulators have required public utility drivers to wear face masks. Grab asked its drivers to do the same. Stricter checks were also implemented at airports while inbound travel from China was recently prohibited.

Over 400 people have died while nearly 20,000 others have been infected with the new strain that started in Wuhan in central China. All of the fatalities are from China except for one in the Philippines, and one in Hong Kong.

The public needs "clarity" on the outbreak before they resume taking the train, Alfonso said.

"We’re all affected - transport, hotels, tourism, retail - so we’re hoping to get over this sooner rather than later," he said. 

Virus worry trims LRT-1 ridership by 10 percent: operator 1
Light Rail Manila Corp President and CEO Juan Alfonso speaks to Cathy Yang for ANC's The Boss

Shopping malls around the country have also positioned hand sanitizers and instructed staff to wear face masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

The LRT-1 is Metro Manila's oldest elevated railway. It runs from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City north of the capital to Pasay City in the south.

The consortium operating LRT-1, Light Rail Manila, is composed of AC Infrastructure, Metro Pacific Investments Corp and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings.