THE Transportation department said the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3) hit its highest ridership levels since July on Tuesday at 104,346, after the authorities allowed the rail line to carry passengers at 30% capacity and as higher train speeds increased throughput.

Commuter rail service resumed in June at 13% capacity to account for social distancing and other pandemic safety measures, in compliance with guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, according to the department.

The department said the government’s recent decision to increase the cap on capacity to 30% has boosted ridership.

Dinagdagan ang kapasidad ng mga tren sa 30% (124 na pasahero kada train car, 372 na pasahero kada train set), mula sa dating 13%. (Train capacities were raised to 30% or 124 passengers per rail car and 372 per train set from the old cap of 13%,” the department said in a statement Wednesday.

The MRT-3 also started increasing train speeds to 50 kilometers per hour on Tuesday, reducing waiting time between trains from 8-9.5 minutes to 4-5 minutes. MRT-3 operates 20 trains per day.

“This means that travel time from North Avenue station to Taft Avenue station will likewise be lessened from 1 hour and 15 minutes to just 1 hour and 5 minutes,” the Transportation department said in a separate statement.

“The improvement in train speed is a result of the installation of the new long-welded rails (LWRs) in all the MRT-3 stations as part of the massive rehabilitation program of the rail line, which is being implemented by Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,” it added.

The department said the MRT-3 will further increase its speed to 60 kph by December. — Arjay L. Balinbin