SM gets support for its BRT system

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Sunday, March 2, 2014


THERE have been no objections, so far, to the mass transport system proposed by SM Prime Holdings Inc. for the South Road Properties (SRP).

SM regional operations manager of SM malls Sherry Tuvilla presented to the Cebu City Council the proposed internal transportation system in the SRP.

The buses SM introduced to the council are hybrids. These will be ready when the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system is approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and becomes operational.

The bus has been described as “safe, comfortable and environment-friendly.”

It can accommodate up to 70 passengers, according to SM’s presentation. Payment is through “smart cards.”

SM did not give the media a copy of the internal routes because these have not been approved.

Councilor Gerardo Carillo noted that bus operators will need assistance because the buses will have to be imported.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairperson Ahmed Cuizon said environment-friendly passenger vehicles are issued franchise moratorium.

More economical

The proposed transport system has the support of the LTFRB and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), Cuizon said.

He asked Tuvilla what would happen to public utility jeepneys.

Tuvilla said the buses will be more economical because they carry more passengers. This will result in less traffic at the SRP, which still doesn’t have a commercial route.

Councilor Sisinio Andales said a study should be pursued so the proposed transport system will not compete with jeepneys in the downtown area.

Earlier, SM proposed four stations where the internal transport system can load or unload passengers.

While the route will not pass through the downtown area, one station will be located at SM City and another one at the North Bus Terminal. As a result, the SRP’s internal transport system will have to be integrated with the regular transport system.

“Would the road be sufficient?” asked Councilor Margarita Osmeña, pertaining to the SRP’s road system, to which Cuizon replied, “I believe so, as long as this will be the only (transport system). If there are more public vehicles then it will be a problem.”

Cuizon and Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) Executive Director Rafael Yap agreed that the presence of mass transport might encourage motorists to take the bus rather than their private vehicles.

At a snail’s pace

“Majority of the road is utilized by private vehicles. We want to change that,” said Yap who also shared that the Citom board is in favor of the said mass transport system.

SRP Manager Roberto Varquez is also in favor of the proposed transportation for the SRP, but he said the operation of the BRT system by 2016 seemed impossible at the rate it is going.

The integrated BRT system at the SRP is in the third phase, which may be overtaken by developments at the SRP like SM’s Seaside City, composed of a mall and office buildings, and the residential and commercial development of the Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI).

SM’s proposed buses will cater to these developments while approval of the BRT hinges on President Benigno Aquino III.

Osmeña moved for SM and FLI to consider developing the area surrounding them as possible routes in exchange for possible tax credit.

As to the pending BRT system, Osmeña suggested that this could be implemented in phases. This way, the National Government can see that it is working and will help in the completion of the project.

Yap said he will take this up with the DOTC, which is the main proponent of the BRT system. (JGA)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 02, 2014.

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