TO move in step with the needs and demands of its populace is a straightforward definition of livability. Cebu’s growth pains are most apparent towards the end of the year and the start of the new one when a deluge of visitors descends on the metros and even the outskirts to enjoy the yearend holiday and join the Sinulog fiesta in January.
The unusually heavy flow of visitors merges with the already burgeoning requirements of Cebu residents.
How can an equilibrium be maintained between local and transient demands?
As defined by livable.org, livability is the combination of factors contributing to the overall quality of life of a community: “built and natural environments, economic prosperity, social stability and equity, educational opportunity, and cultural, entertainment and recreation possibilities”.
Mobility comes at the forefront of priorities, considering that the traffic bottlenecks and flash floods afflicting many parts of Metro Cebu rival those of Metro Manila, reflecting acutely the twin faces of modernisation: boon and bane.
Despite the increase from P25 to P40, there is no cheaper and comfortable commuting option for those arriving at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and connecting to the SM Cebu City mall at the North Reclamation Area (NRA).
The mybus operations connecting Mactan, the NRA, the South Road Properties (SRP), and Talisay City offers locals and visitors the efficiency of regular schedules, modern convenience, and cost-effectiveness, the latter being a primary consideration for cost-conscious Cebuanos.
In terms of inclusivity, mybus offers discounts to students, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Mybus personnel prompt commuters that the front seats, which are not elevated and easier to access, are reserved for those with special needs.
The mybus route does not only connect the SM malls in NRA and the SRP areas but also Robinsons Galleria Cebu in the NRA and the Robinsons Cybergate in Fuente. Another valuable service availed by the public are the free shuttle rides offered by the Robinsons group of malls, which connect the NRA to key areas in Talamban, Guadalupe, Lahug, Banawa, and Fuente.
Through the mybus routes in Talisay and Mandaue that cover Robinsons Galleria Cebu, the public can connect to the MCIA. Another bus company offering the option for a cheaper, efficient, and safe connection from the Cebu South Bus Terminal to the MCIA-Terminal 2 is the Sugbo Transit Express. Like the mybus vehicles, the Sugbo Transit buses have features that are friendly to those with special needs.
Last December, 40 units of bus-jeeps or beeps, which are air-conditioned and WiFi-enabled, started plying the Cebu City Hall to the Cebu I.T. Park in Apas for 24 hours. There are nine stops in this route, costing P8 for the first five kilometers.
Netizens, who post about and review these bus and shuttle services through their blogs, social media sites, and travel websites, contribute to facilitating public mobility through information dissemination.
The practice of commuters standing when all seats are occupied can still be observed in some of the bus and shuttle services, specially those offering free services or covering areas during peak hours of traffic. This practice increases the risk for drivers and commuters.
Covered waiting sheds and easier access to reload transport cards or buy tickets can also meet the needs of residents and transients.
It is hoped that this public-private partnership, which has always served Cebu well in other urbanization needs, will improve mobility within Cebu. Private-car owners may even consider taking public transport and decongest the roads.
Stakeholdership can address mobility within Cebu, which can make it both livable and hospitable to residents and visitors alike, even during the peak seasons at the year’s end and during the Sinulog fiesta.