THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said it is going ahead with the bus rapid transit (BRT) plans for Cebu City and Metro Manila’s Quezon Avenue, but added that a line serving the capital’s main bypass road, Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) line, will face delays after its original funder backed out of the project.
Transportation Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Mark Richmund M. de Leon said in a Palace briefing on Wednesday that the two BRT projects will move forward despite being initially met with opposition by the DoTr.
“We had an inspection with the World Bank team and NEDA (National Economic Development Authority), and we evaluated the conditions of the corridors of Cebu and Quezon Avenue]. We found out that it’s still possible to run a BRT in these corridors,” he said.
The Cebu BRT is a 23-kilometer dedicated bus lane approved in 2014 by the previous administration. Mr. De Leon said the project value is now P16 billion from the original P10.6 billion because of additional right of way costs.
In Metro Manila, the BRT line on Quezon Avenue had a government budget of P4.8 billion according to Mr. de Leon, while the EDSA line was supposed to cost P37.76 billion.
“We’re undergoing evaluation for EDSA. Previously there was a funder, who backed out of that program. So that’s why it hasn’t moved forward yet,” Mr. De Leon said.
“Cebu and Quezon Avenue are going ahead because those have a different funder, which is the World Bank,” he added.
Mr. De Leon said the department has notified the Department of Finance indicating its intention to proceed with the Quezon Avenue line.
“We will now proceed with the detail engineering design of the project. Detailed engineering design will proceed this year. It will go through a procurement stage]. In three years time, we’ll have a BRT,” he said.
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has repeatedly expressed his opposition to BRT systems, citing the difficulty of dedicating a lane for buses in a congested areas.
The DoTr had even written NEDA to recommend cancelling the project, but NEDA asked the DoTr to provide compelling evidence for such an action. The transportation department eventually retracted its position in a July 27 letter to NEDA signed by Mr. Tugade, saying it will review the technical design of a BRT in Cebu.
In a chance interview with BusinessWorld last week, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said a BRT system is ideal to speed the development of public transport in the Philippines.
“BRT, typically, is faster to build, it’s quicker to build, but also, cheaper and affordable for countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam,” ITDP Country Director Yoga Adiwinarto said.
The research company which specializes in transport solutions said a BRT system empowers the commuting public because the dedicated lane privileges users on the road.
“The idea of a BRT is that it is a prioritization (scheme) for public transport users,” Mr. Adiwarto added. — Denise A. Valdez