Addressing plight of PUJ drivers

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014


A TRANSPORT official proposed a massive rerouting of passenger jeepneys in Metro Cebu to minimize the dislocation of drivers once the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will be implemented.

Regional Director Ahmed Cuizon of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said that one of the concerns of President Benigno Aquino III, who approved the BRT last May 29, was the plight of the jeepney drivers.

Planning ahead

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It will take at least two years before the BRT can be operational. Its route will start in Bulacao, Cebu City and end in Talamban, going through N. Bacalso Ave., Osmeña Blvd. (formerly Jones Ave.), Escario St. and Archbishop Reyes Ave.

As this developed, Bogota City’s former mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who started Colombia’s BRT system, congratulated Cebuanos for the approval of the P10.6-billion project.

In an email sent to Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete, a member of the technical working group for the city’s BRT, Peñalosa said the project will do many things for Cebu.

“It will help Cebu’s mobility and save transportation time for tens of thousands of Cebuanos, which they will better spend with family and friends,” he said.

Cuizon likened the BRT project to a fish bone, with BRT buses covering the main route from the head to tail; the bones on the side that stretch outwards are like the jeepney routes.

“The jeepneys will become feeders of passengers to the BRT. This means they can bring
the passengers from the various Cebu City barangays to the BRT stations,” Cuizon said.

“The jeepneys and BRT will complement each other.”

Coordination

The LTFRB 7 director said the agency will coordinate closely with the local governments, especially in updating jeepney routes, to keep many drivers from losing their livelihood.

Those who do lose their jobs, Cuizon said, can work for the BRT system as cleaners, ticket sellers, security guards or any other jobs they may qualify for.

Engineer Elvis Calunod, chief of the maintenance division of the Department of Public
Works and Highways (DPWH), said they received word from their central office to coordinate with the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) on BRT projects.

When asked if the BRT project could face a problem due to narrow roads, Calunod said the implementation will be based on the feasibility study by the World Bank and initiated by DOTC.

Calunod said that to accommodate the BRT project, the center islands on N. Bacalso Ave. and Osmeña Blvd. will be removed.

‘Symbol of democracy’

Former mayor Peñalosa, considered among the leading figures of the world on the BRT system, also said that the BRT project will help Cebu’s urban structure.

“It will be a symbol of democracy, as public transport users move faster than those in private cars. It will strengthen the Cebuanos’ confidence in their capacity to create their destiny,” he said.

Bogota’s BRT system, which Peñalosa pushed, is said to be one of the most successful and extensive urban transport systems in the world.

He was Bogota mayor in 1998 to 2001, when he successfully introduced the BRT, which was modeled after that of Curritiba in Brazil.

In November 2008, Peñalosa visited Cebu City and presided over a discussion on the benefits of the BRT system. At that time, Villarete was still connected with the City Government as the planning and development coordinator.

In his email, Peñalosa said he is hoping to visit Cebu in a couple of years and see for himself the city’s BRT.

The BRT, which will have 33 stations with 176 buses, is expected to serve 330,000 passengers per day. It will be funded by Agence Francaise de Developpement and the World Bank, through the Clean Technology Fund.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 04, 2014.

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