Bus owners worry over Cebu transit project-A A +A
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
CEBU CITY – Local transport operators commended the government for its efforts to improve the transport system in Cebu, but appealed to authorities to implement the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) without displacing them.
Operators who compose the Cebu Mini-Bus Operators Association (CSMBOA) and the Cebu Provincial Bus Operators Association (CPBOA) said that bus, taxi and jeepney operators have served the public in good and bad times, so they should not be eased out of their routes without an alternative means of livelihood.
Julito Flores, president of the CSMBOA, and Richard Corominas, president of the CPBOA, said they will meet with all bus operators on June 26 to discuss their stand on the BRT.
Flores said that from the beginning, transport operators have been partners of the government in ensuring Cebu’s progress. They continue to invest in public transport, which benefits the riding public, he added.
“We believe that the government has a good intention in eyeing mass transport. But please don’t displace the local transport investors,” Flores said.
The Cebu City Government, with its foreign consultants from the Integrated Transport Planning, is preparing to operate the BRT by 2015.
If the implementation goes as planned, the BRT’s initial route will be from Bulacao, passing through N. Bacalso Ave. then to Osmeña Blvd., Escario St. and straight to Talamban.
The BRT and an additional terminal for Mactan Airport are among the priority projects of the Aquino administration, which is seeking private sector partners for big-ticket infrastructure and other ventures.
A briefing paper by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities showed there were 80 BRT systems in development in the region as of 2010, including the one in Cebu.
The feasibility study for the Cebu City BRT is expected to be concluded by August. The study for the detailed design will start in October and will be finished in May.
The detailed design will cover the specifics of the BRT system, including the road network, the bus stops and intervals.
In an interview Wednesday, Flores and Corominas said that unlike other operators who only think of profit at the expense of the people, CSMBOA and CPBOA members once filed a petition with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to reduce bus fares.
They pointed out that Cebu’s bus operators had sought lower fares, while their counterparts in Luzon sought a fare increase.
For his part, Corominas said that because of the proposed BRT, transport operators are reluctant to accept SM City’s offer to operate buses and jeepneys in the South Road Properties (SRP).
SM City reportedly invited local transport operators to ply routes to the site of the SM City at the SRP so that when it opens in November next year, the people will already be familiar with the area.
However, Corominas said only Metro Cebu KMK Transport, which he co-owns, responded to the offer because other operators fear they will lose their investments once the BRT becomes operational.
“We responded positively to SM City’s invitation because we have existing tie-ups with them. But the others are reluctant for fear of investment losses,” Corominas said.
Corominas added that proponents of the BRT system want affected jeepney and bus operators to invest in the mass transport system.
But they are unlikely to do so, he said, because the BRT is very expensive to set up and unrealistic as far as return of investment is concerned. (EOB/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 21, 2012.