Cebu BRT tweaked to avoid narrow streets

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The PHP16.9-billion Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (CBRT) will soon be implemented in this city but with modifications of its alignment due to its inclusion in the Department of Transportation’s Integrated Intermodal Transport System (IITS) project in Metro Cebu.

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino met with DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade Thursday last week to discuss with the department’s technical consultants the new alignment of the CBRT project.

In September last year, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee approved the project. It had an initial budget of PHP10.6 billion when NEDA approved it in 2014, but it ballooned to PHP16.9 billion to fund a 23-kilometer BRT corridor.

Dino, in a statement, said CBRT will just become a component of IITS Phase 1, which would become operational in 2020.

“The BRT will become a feeder line of LRT. It will adopt a “loop system” and will travel like a carousel in selected roads which are wider in order to avoid traffic congestion in the BRT routes and other peripheral thoroughfares,” Dino said in his statement.

The presidential assistant for the Visayas said under the realigned routes of BRT, narrow roads would be skipped. He said it would no longer follow the original plan, which, if implemented, would have allowed the BRT buses to ply even in narrow roads from Natalio Bacalso Avenue to Ayala Center.

As feeder line, BRT will ferry passengers from the interior parts of the city up to the IITS common station in the city.

The first phase of IITS would also include the airport line of the Cebu Light Rail Transit that would ferry passengers from the city to Mactan Cebu International Airport, he said. The Cebu LRT will be the first-ever rail system outside Metro Manila and will be operational before President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

Dino explained that the airport line would be the introductory phase of the Cebu LRT project.

After the airport line, he said the rail alignments covering Cebu City to Danao City for the northern route and Cebu City to Carcar City for the southern route will follow.

“LRT shall be the main transport backbone that (to) cover the entire stretch of the metropolis,” he said. “The transport needs of Cebu is felt even beyond the metro, so that this LRT system will ferry substantial number of passengers from one point to another,” he said.

Walkalators and greenways would be an added attraction of the IITS, Dino said.

“We have senior citizens, PDWs, pregnant women, and children who will be visiting malls, establishments, and offices via walkalators,” he said.

Dino’s statement also read: “The Duterte administration is relentless in its effort to give the Filipino people comfortable life, and the projects it has rolled out under its Build Build Build program is meant for that purpose, setting aside political considerations.”

On Saturday, Cebu City Administrator Nigel Paul Villarete had asked the DOTr about the status of the BRT project.

The city administrator, who is known to be an urban planner, said the project has been delayed for three years already. But the project was first deferred in 2013 before the Aquino administration entered into a loan agreement with the World Bank in 2014.

Department of Finance records showed the USD116 million loan component for the BRT in the city comes from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and USD25 million from World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund.

Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima signed the loan agreement with the WB in October of 2014, the DOF said. (PNA)