Cebu City welcomes study for LRT
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo (The Freeman) - August 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu City government welcomes another proposal to conduct a feasibility study on the proposed light rail transit project in the city.

City administrator Nigel Paul Villarete said they are open to the proposal from Tranzen Group Inc. to operate Line 1 of Cebu LRT from Talisay City to Cebu City, Mandaue City, and Consolacion.

Villarete said the city government is not opposing the LRT project as long as it would not spend money for it.

“There is no agreement between the proponent yet. I'm still asking for a legal review by City Legal Office before endorsing to City Council for the resolution to authorize the mayor to sign,” he told The FREEMAN.

If ever, Villarete said this would be the second memorandum of agreement between the city and proponents of rail projects.

The first MOA was signed by Mayor Tomas Osmeña with the officials of Philtram Transportation Consortium Inc. (PTCI) in May to conduct feasibility study for monorail project in the city.

Villarete said the city will welcome all proposals from any proponents for as long as it will be non-binding agreement which means no subsidies from the city for the capital expenditures and operation and management of the project.

“Implication (of many project proposals) is that there are so many opportunities and we got to choose the best opportunity,” he said.

He, however, said his personal and professional preference for the city’s mode of transportation is the bus rapid transit (BRT).

“I can discuss with anybody all the technicalities of the bus transportation and prove to him or her that BRT is better. Just put the studies on the table,” he said.

Earlier, the Tranzen Group, Inc. issued press release saying that BRT will complement the LRT. The first phase of the BRT will run from Barangay Bulacao to Natalio Bacalso Avenue to South Road Properties to Natalio Bacalso Avenue to Osmeña Boulevard to Escario Street to Ayala Center to Talamban.

According Eldon C. Cruz, managing director of Tranzen Group, Inc., the Line 1 of LRT is an inter-city system which begins from Talisay City and traverses the cities of Cebu and Mandaue to Consolacion.

LRT will be a 21-kilometer route with around 16 stations while BRT’s first phase includes 23-kilometer route with 25 locations for the stations.

According to Cruz, both BRT and LRT would traverse a common section of around six kilometers along Natalio Bacalso Avenue from Bulacao to Osmeña Boulevard.

“The BRT would veer left to Osmeña Blvd, while Line 1 CLRT would proceed northwards to P. Del Rosario, to Mandaue City, and Consolacion. The designs of both systems along the common would be integrated. An underground section is part of the ongoing Line 1 feasibility study,” Cruz said.

Cruz said 52 percent of LRT’s line 1 will traverse Cebu City and half of the number of stations will be in the city.

When asked if the implementation of LRT will be in conflict with the BRT, Villarete said it will not cause any problem since they will be on different corridors and ridership.

“If it's the same corridor and they will share the same ridership, of course, they will compete, and the basis for choosing and deciding will be on which will generate the highest economic benefits.  That’s why the criteria will always be the EIRR – that's the economic internal rate of return,” he said.

Villarete said one of the important reasons to conduct feasibility studies is to identify the EIRR of the project.

He said the National Economic and Development Authority will base its decision to approve the project or not on the project’s EIRR.

Villarete said the city government is not against LRT project, as projected by some critics of BRT project.

“Our position is there would be no subsidy from the city government for both the capital expenditures and for operations and managements. That’s the condition. It’s their money. If they see it’s feasible, they can implement it. But go find the money somewhere else,” he said.

The Cebu City Development Council had issued resolution interposing no objection and supporting the conduct proposed feasibility study by Tranzen Group, Inc., its affiliates, and strategic partners.  —/FPL (FREEMAN)

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