Saturday, July 31, 2021

Seares: BRT or LRT, whatever, just do it

HERE’S why the “general public” doesn’t bother to take time to find out which works better for Cebu City and nearby local governments: bus, light rail, underpass, overpass:

[] The people have elected representatives -- governor, mayor, city councilors, House members -- to pick the better proposal. The government has agencies -- such as the public works department or DPWH, Regional Development Council, Metro Cebu Development Board, the Neda -- that have experts to study and recommend which system better serves public good.

[] There are non-government interest groups -- chambers of commerce, better-Cebu movements -- that promote their agenda and yet look after public interest as well. There’s media, for heavens sake, that’s supposed to help sort out facts and clarify doubts.

[] Most of us plain citizens, burdened with the ordeal of making a living, have neither knowledge and enthusiasm to delve into merits and demerits of BRT or LRT nor the concern other than the most crucial ones: “Can the government afford it without sacrificing our basic needs?” “How much more will it cost us to ride in it?”

What public lacks

Along with the leave-it-to-them facts, particularly in Cebu City, is the meager information that has come out to sell BRT and LRT.

We have a mayor who says he has pitched for BRT but has yet to make an easy-to-understand and all-you-need-to-know data about the BRT, including cost to government and to consumers when they ride in it. All that have come out so far are bits and pieces in press cons and Facebook posts that mostly address criticism of the project.

We have an official, a liaison for Malacañang, who a year or so ago pushed the LRT principally by hurling flak at BRT. The public also has to watch and hear a presentation of the pros and cons of the mass transport he prefers.

Other than stage debate

Not strangely, no private group has initiated that kind of presentation in which everything you need to know about BRT or LRT is taken up. Not one dares to meddle in the cat fight between the mayor and the presidential assistant for the Visayas.

The mayor keeps daring his rival with a debate, which cannot and need not happen. Each hates the other’s guts so much that they can’t stand on the same stage with the audience convinced they wont claw at each other.

But a debate on the issue, I once said here, may be conducted without requiring their presence in the same venue at the same time or by using competent surrogates.

Such as: Separate presentations at, say, a civic club meeting, with an independent panel to act as devil’s advocate. A video-and-text tutorial on the internet, with time reserved for critique by experts and, trolls excluded, public reactors. Or exchange of views in media, one after the other, on specific facets of the controversy.

Not either-or

Besides, the public has not been told that it is a case of either-BRT-or-LRT thing: if Cebu gets one, it can’t get the other. Instead, it has become a case of if-I-can’t-shoot-down-my-rival’s-plan-I-lose-face.

The way the trading of barbs between two competing political camps has ascended or descended tells us that it won’t help the public make up its mind intelligently.

The traffic problem has assumed the size and ferocity of a monster. It is tormenting the community 24/7, no respite. As Cebu City north congressman Raul del Mar told business leaders yesterday (April 19), it’s costing P132 million a day in lost business and add-on costs, spewing out more poison into the air we breathe, and endangering mental health.

BRT, LRT, overpass, underpass, whatever, go ahead with the freaking solution.


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!

Create your own user feedback survey