Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private operator of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), said Thursday its ridership is slowly increasing as more businesses in the capital are reopening.

“Yes, we were able to see an improvement in ridership in September versus August. In August, we had two weeks without operations when Metro Manila was back in modified enhanced community quarantine. For September, our weekday ridership was at about 20% level compared to pre-pandemic, even if with strict physical distancing still implemented,” LRMC Spokesperson Jacqueline S. Gorospe told BusinessWorld in a phone message.

Earlier in the  general community quarantine, LRT-1 was only doing about 10% to 12% of its capacity.

“We are observing more passengers now especially with the reopening of more businesses. We try to serve this with more train trips,” Ms. Gorospe added.

In July, the Transportation department said LRT-1’s ridership from June 1, when the National Capital Region shifted to the more relaxed community quarantine, to July 12 was 3,622,364. LRT-1 used to serve an average of 500,000 passengers a day before the pandemic.

The private operator of LRT-1 has introduced various health measures to restore the confidence of its passengers, as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the LRMC launched a new contact-tracing tool, an added feature of the company’s ikotMNL mobile app.

The app is the country’s first railway and tourism mobile app, which serves as a one-stop information mobile platform for commuters and tourists traveling along the route of LRT-1 in the capital.

LRMC is the consortium composed of Ayala Corp., Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp. (a unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp.) and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. — Arjay L. Balinbin