LRT-1 operator continues to suffer from low rider count

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LIGHT RAIL Manila Corp. (LRMC), operator of Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), continues to suffer from low ridership due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) disclosed on Tuesday that 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.

All rail lines resumed operations with limited capacity while strictly implementing social distancing, as well as health and sanitary measures, in adherence to the guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and following the partial, gradual and calibrated approach, the Transportation department said in a statement.

In a phone message to BusinessWorld, LRMC Spokesperson Jacqueline Gorospe said the LRT-1 used to serve an average of 500,000 passengers a day before the pandemic.

“So the total for the period… mentioned is just about 12% of what we would or what we can normally receive in terms of ridership (if there was no pandemic). This is also consistent with the DoTr limit of passenger loading for us. We can only accommodate this much to observe their required one-meter distancing rule,” she added.

Ms. Gorospe did not immediately comment when asked about the cost-cutting measures being implemented to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the company’s operations.

During the same period, LRT-2 had a total ridership of 997,877 while the Philippine National Railways (PNR) had 478,945. Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3, which did not operate from July 7 to 12, served 1,603,006 passengers.

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