DOTC to request Cebu BRT’s nod within the month

Jean Marvette Demecillo/RHM (The Freeman) - April 4, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Department of Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya yesterday said they would request within the month the National Economic and Development Authority board to approve the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit project.

He said his office has already tested the Cebu BRT concept and results were encouraging. NEDA earlier asked DOTC to submit a “proof of concept” showing that the Cebu BRT is feasible.

Once NEDA gives its concurrence, Abaya said, DOTC would start the procurement process for the project.

“Ginawa namin sa Global City, the numbers were good, it showed that having a segregated lanes for buses will improve its speed. Likewise, it was required to test it in more disorganized and chaotic, so we tested it in Commonwealth as well, it would give you 30 to as much as 100 percent increase in speed, he said.”

He made the statement in yesterday’s inauguration of the new Cebu International Port Pier I passenger terminal, where he was the guest speaker.

Cebu Port Authority Deputy General Manager Yusop Uckung said the terminal was operational since Nov. 21, but was only inaugurated yesterday due to the earthquake and super typhoon that struck Cebu during the last quarter of last year.

He said the new Terminal 1 was operating and catering the services of the port users last November 21, 2013.

Uckung said the 2,688-square-meter terminal provides passengers a convenient, comfort, reliable, efficient, and affordable facility in their travels to and from Cebu.

The new terminal features a meditation room, a first aid station, kids’ corner, free Wi-Fi Internet connection, and gender-sensitive amenities.

As to the BRT system, Abaya believes enough preparations have been made to prepare the Cebuanos for it.

“There has been enough social preparation na.  In fact, I think all Cebuanos are really waiting for this. Handang-handa na kayo. In fact, I’ve heard that even jeepney drivers, what the system will require them is to serve the feeder area, not the main road but merely bringing the passengers to the BRT system para complementary,” he said.

The BRT is a bus system where segregated lanes are made exclusive for the buses.  It is seen to help ease the growing traffic problem in Cebu City.

“There’s intelligent signaling system that traffic signals na pag na-detect yung bus, will shift to a green light to really facilitate the movement. In that way, you should be efficient in fast mass transport system, almost simulating a light train,” Abaya said. 

Meanwhile, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-7 Director Ahmed Cuizon said buses would have to be issued franchises and that his office would be the one to regulate the fare rates.

“We will not be amenable nga ang operator lang ang magbuot pila ang pletehan, nga walay (that operators are the ones who set the fare without) approval gikan sa (from the) government side. LTFRB will play its role in regulating and setting the fares alang sa mga BRT buses,” he said.

Cuizon said that once the BRT system is in place, there would be rerouting in major areas in the city, but assured that the PUJs would not be dislocated.

“In the long term, therefore, the economic advantages would far outweigh whatever other disadvantages there may be,” he added.

As to the new Pier 1 terminal fee, of P25, which is a 150-percent increase of the previous P10 fee, Abaya wondered if it is enough to defray maintenance expenses of the new terminal.

He said even CPA General Manager Edmund Tan mentioned the amount is not enough but that revenue from concessions would complement collections from the fee.

“I’m sure all of the passengers using the terminal would gladly pay 25 pesos as compared to paying 10 pesos (but) using the same terminal building of the 1930s,” said Abaya.

Rovelyn Mission, who regularly travels from Cebu to Butuan and vice versa, is okay with the increase.

“Mga facilities nila, bag-o gyod tanan ug limpyo pa gyod kaayo. Ug ang kanindot pa gyod,  libre akong mama nga senior citizen na ug akong mga anak nga wala pa kaabot og trese anyos,” she said.

Ramon Blase, on the other hand, said the Cebu port is way better than his native Surigao’s, yet difference in the terminal fees is just small.

Aside from speaking during the occasion, Abaya also joined Tan and former Cebu City south district congressman Tomas Osmeña in the cutting of the ribbon yesterday.  (FREEMAN)

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