DAVAO CITY’S planned public bus system in Davao City will be launched in 2019, as originally planned, instead of this year as targeted by the local government, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio announced Tuesday. In her State of the City Address, Ms. Carpio said she is “not optimistic that it (implementation of the project) will happen” this year as various components still need to be ironed out. The High Priority Bus System (HPBS) project, which is part of a comprehensive transportation plan undertaken in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, is intended to replace the public utility jeepneys (PUJs) in the city. Ms. Carpio said they are still finalizing the assistance packages for the PUJ sector, composed of about 8,000 drivers, operators and the so-called “barkers” at jeepney stops. The assistance would involve alternative livelihood or investment options, including participation in the HPBS. The city government is also currently in discussions with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Land Transportation Office, and private bus companies. Five initial routes have already been identified but the mayor said they are still working on “introducing improvements such integrated public transport terminals, designated loading and unloading areas, proper road markings and signs, and additional traffic signals all over the city with appropriate data generation and system analyses capabilities.” Ms. Carpio noted that the deployment of four buses for free rides to the public during the Kadayawan Festival in August “has confirmed and reinforced the conclusion highlighting the need and clamor for a modern, safe and convenient mode of public mass transportation in the city.” — Carmelito Q. Francisco