LRT-1 to ‘refresh’ customer service training after viral emergency button incident

September 5, 2023 - 1:38 PM
LRT-1 Passengers
This undated image shows the Light Rail Transit-1. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

The operator of the Light Rail Transit-Line 1 (LRT-1) said it will “refresh” the customer service training of its personnel after a passenger called them out for how some of their staff handled an incident.

Passenger Mhina C. Fabre shared an experience during the morning rush hour at the LRT-1 Monumento Station on August 23, Wednesday — a “Baclaran Day.”

“Baclaran Day” means more passengers than usual on the Yellow Line, on top of the peak hours of commute.

This is because the transit line has the nearest station to the famous National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also known as the Baclaran Church, where devotees pray the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help every Wednesday.

This is accessible via LRT-1’s Baclaran Station.

Fabre shared that on that day, at around 7:45 a.m., she saw a male passenger’s finger get stuck between train doors.

According to her, the male passenger attempted to knock on the door in an attempt to open it, but it remained closed.

Fabre said that someone suggested pressing the emergency button inside the train with the hopes of opening the doors and helping the passenger.

Another passenger did this and the train door was opened “after a few seconds.”

However, Fabre said that a security guard approached them and demanded that the individual who pressed the emergency button alight from the train.

She added that the passengers explained what had happened, but the guard “doesn’t want to hear explanations.”

The train driver also approached them and questioned why the emergency button was pressed. Fabre claimed the driver said it was not supposed to be pressed.

She added that the passengers explained the incident again.

“Actions take 3-5 [minutes] before tuluyan magsara ‘yung door. The sad part is, they don’t even bother to ask kung ‘Kamusta ‘yung naipit na daliri ng pasahero? If he needs assistance [or] medics? Lastly, kung ok lang ba [siya]?'” Fabre wrote.

“[Si] kuyang nagmalasakit? AYUN. Pinababa at kukunan [daw] ng Incident Report. ‘NAGMALASAKIT NA, NA ABALA PA!’ So LRT, PARA [SAAN] NGA BA ANG PAGGAMIT NG EMERGENCY BUTTON????????” she added.

The Light Rail Manila Corporation (LRMC), the operator of the transit line, issued an apology and assured the riding public it would “reiterate and refresh the customer service training” of its staff to prevent similar incidents.

It said the incident happened in a Gen-1 or first-generation type of train which was “not designed with automatic door sensors.”

“Based on initial incident review, the affected male passenger boarded the train and held on to the door, causing his fingers to be caught between the closing doors,” the LRMC said in a statement on September 4, more than ten days after the incident.

“The male passenger was immediately assisted by the platform security personnel. He was offered to be brought to the LRMC Clinic at Central Station, but he declined and availed of the first-aid treatment at Monumento Station for his minor right thumb injury,” the operator added.

LRMC said that the morning rush hour “may have contributed to the misunderstanding between the passengers and LRMC personnel involved,” adding that Monumento Station at that time carried “a large volume of passengers.”

The operator added that it is still finishing a more thorough investigation of the incident.

However, it assured commuters that it does “not tolerate disrespectful behavior in the team” and it strives “to find solutions to keep improving our services everyday.”

“We will likewise reiterate and refresh the customer service training of our staff to prevent future similar incidents,” the LRMC said.

It also urged the public to help it promote and maintain a safe public transport system “through proper passenger conduct and observance of safety guidelines.”

As of 2021, the Yellow Line is the second busiest railway after the Metro Rail Transit-Line 3 (MRT-3) along EDSA.

LRT-1 runs predominantly along Taft Avenue in Manila. It also traverses Rizal Avenue and Rizal Avenue Extension.

The Yellow Line serves the cities of Manila, Quezon, Caloocan, and Pasay and has stations connecting to other metro lines, namely the Doroteo Jose (D. Jose), Blumentritt and EDSA Stations.

LRT-1’s D. Jose Station connects to LRT-2’s Recto Station via a covered walkway, while Blumentritt Station is located above its PNR Metro Commuter Line counterpart.

The EDSA Station, meanwhile, connects to MRT-3’s Taft Avenue Station.