World Bank funds Metro Manila BRT system

Posted on March 18, 2017

MULTILATERAL lender World Bank is pouring in $64.6 million for the first line of the planned Metro Manila bus rapid transit (BRT) system, which it will co-fund with the Philippine government.

The Bus Rapid Transit line will span Quezon Avenue and España in Quezon City and Manila.
In a statement sent to reporters on Friday, the World Bank said its Board of Executive Directors approved the financing for $109.4-million Metro Manila BRT Line 1 project, which will come from the lender and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).

The remaining $44.8 million of the project cost will be shouldered by the government.

The project, one of the three BRT systems proposed by the Duterte administration, will ply España Boulevard to Quezon Avenue and cater to about 300,000 commuters daily.

It will be implemented by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in coordination with the local governments of Manila and Quezon City, and is expected to be operational by 2020.

“By providing an affordable and convenient public transport option, this project will help make job and education opportunities more accessible, especially for the poor residing around the BRT route,” World Bank Country Director Mara K. Warwick was quoted as saying in the statement.

BRTs use dedicated lanes for buses and are intended as a cheaper substitute for commuter trains.

“High-capacity transport systems like BRT help reduce greenhouse gases, boosting the country’s contribution to the global fight against climate change,” said Ms. Warwick.

Zhihong Zhang, CTF senior program coordinator, added: “Bus systems like BRT are cost-effective options for reducing emissions of harmful gases that cause climate change.”

Mr. Zhang said the modern transportation system would avert about 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide in 20 years. “Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions globally and projects like this show the road to a cleaner future.”

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said recently that the construction of the Metro Manila BRT Line 1 project would start this year as the government is moving to fast-track the procurement processes of big-ticket projects to improve the country’s infrastructure.

Two more BRT systems have been proposed by the Duterte administration, aimed at easing congestion in Metro Manila. One will be traversing Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, which is planned to be funded by China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, also expected to be operational in 2020.

Another proposed BRT system will connect Bonifacio Global City to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Construction is expected to conclude by 2019, and will also utilize hybrid funding.

In 2014, the multilateral lender also approved a financial package for the $141 million BRT system in Cebu City, seen completed by 2018. -- EJCT