LIGHT RAIL Manila Corp. (LRMC), the private operator and maintenance provider of Light Rail Transit Line (LRT)-1, is conducting a study on the safety protocols for its trains to ensure passengers’ safety after the Transportation department allowed train operators to gradually increase their capacities to 50%.

“The LRMC study performed the dispersion experiment using Glo Germ® Mist to simulate sneezing and coughing. Glo Germ is commonly used to simulate bacteria of 0.5 micron size,” Louernie de Sales, officer in charge of LRMC’s health, safety, environment, and quality department, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday. 

LRMC said its study is limited to the measurement of respiratory droplet dispersion. The airborne transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was not taken into consideration, it added.

“An experiment using SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) or similar specimen was not carried out for the safety of the researchers and the participants,” the company said further.

The study is being peer-reviewed by experts from the University of the Philippines, it said.

The Transportation department announced on Sunday that it had instructed railway operators to increase their passenger capacities to 30%. They previously operated at 13% to 18% capacities amid the travel restrictions.

From 30%, their capacities will be gradually increased to 50%, the department said.

“Rail public transportation is an enabler of our consumer driven economy. Our mission remains to provide safe transportation, and we achieve this using best in class safety protocols,” LRMC President and Chief Executive Officer Juan F. Alfonso said.

He added that the company studies the passenger behavior and targets disinfection on the places most in contact with the passengers.

“These are measured by our team weekly, and adjustments are made to the priority areas for cleaning. I can assure our commuters that the LRT-1 system is safe,” he said.

LRMC is a 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 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