THE Department of Transportation (DoTr) said it is on track to achieve operational status for the first phase of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (Cebu BRT) by the end of 2021.

In a statement, the DoTr said it is now finalizing the design of the project. The new design will include a separate lane dedicated to the Cebu BRT, shifting from the initial plan that combines dedicated and mixed-traffic lanes for the service.

The update was issued after Cebu City Rep. Raul V. del Mar said in a privilege speech earlier this week that the length of the Cebu BRT has been cut to 13 kilometers from the original 23 kilometers.

“No changes were made on the alignment of the Cebu BRT… [T]o this day, the plan calls for a route of 23 kilometers,” Transportation Undersecretary Mark Richmund M. de Leon said in the statement.

“What was perceived as route reduction was the division of the project into three phases under the new design plan,” he added, explaining that dividing the project into phases would allow for partial operability, or opening selected segments of the project ahead of its full completion.

The first phase of the Cebu BRT is set to open in December 2021. This would cover the stretch from Cebu South Bus Terminal to Capital via Osmeña Boulevard. The next two phases will extend the lanes further to Bulacao and Cebu South Road Properties heading south, and to Talamban to the north.

The next two phases of the Cebu BRT are scheduled for completion in 2025.

“The three-year allowance before the implementation of Phases 2 and 3 while Phase 1 is under construction is to obtain enough time to acquire the necessary Right of Way,” the DoTr said.

Engineering firm Egis International was tapped for the design of Cebu BRT, with the support of the World Bank and the Agence Francaise Developpement (AFD).

Aside from putting up dedicated bus lanes through the Cebu BRT, the government is hoping to implement a Cebu Integrated and Intermodal Transport System to help ease road congestion. — Denise A. Valdez