AFTER nearly two years of plying the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) as a diversion route, public utility buses (PUB) and mini buses will be returning to N. Bacalso Ave. in Cebu City for a dry run on Friday, June 28, 2019.
The development was confirmed by Julieto “Julie” Flores, chairman of the Cebu Provincial Operators Transport Cooperative and Barili town vice mayor-elect, in an interview Tuesday, June 25.
“The request really of the group is not just a dry run, but access to the newly opened Mambaling underpass. We asked for consideration from the Cebu City Government to consult all affected stakeholders, including sectors of students, entrepreneurs and workers,” he said.
The Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) initially planned to prohibit buses and mini buses from using the underpass in Barangay Mambaling.
CCTO operations chief Francisco Ouano said that while they understood the plight of passengers and operators of buses and mini buses, they wanted to decongest traffic on the southern highway.
Based on their observations, traffic in the vicinity of the underpass gets really bad, especially during peak hours from 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
The 700-meter underpass starts from Tabada St. to the corner of the Rama Compound in Barangay Basak San Nicolas. It has two lanes, one southbound and one northbound.
There is also one outer lane each for northbound and southbound vehicles on the sides of the underpass.
Buses and mini buses were diverted to the CSCR when construction of the underpass started in August 2017. Other vehicles, including public utility jeepneys, were rerouted to Ganciang, Tagunol, Caimito and F. Llamas Streets, among others, to decongest traffic on N. Bacalso Ave.
Since traffic flow has been relatively light to moderate since the underpass opened last June 15, Flores said it was time to see if allowing access to PUBs and mini buses would be viable.
“It’s unfair. To avoid the dislocation of any denomination, we appealed for entry. If necessary, we will send a formal communication (to Cebu City mayor-elect Edgardo Labella),” he added.
Since Mondays and Fridays are the busiest days of the week, Flores suggested that on Mondays, northbound buses can take the CSCR if all their passengers will alight at the Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT).
But if many passengers will alight along the Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City-Barangay Basak Pardo, Cebu City route, then the bus driver may proceed to N. Bacalso Ave.
Flores raised the same suggestion for southbound trips on Fridays.
“All PUBs and mini buses will ply N. Bacalso Ave. for the dry run on Friday, starting at 9 a.m. It’s now the initiative of the CCTO to assign traffic enforcers to manage the traffic flow. We called (reelected) Councilor Dave Tumulak on the matter. If it will cause heavy traffic, then maybe we can implement schedules for buses. We just want to try it and see,” he said.
According to Flores, up to 300 PUBs and mini buses that ply the southern route from the CSBT were affected by the construction of the underpass.
Aside from this, commuters have resorted to cutting trips via public utility jeepneys (PUJs), since the diversion to CSCR bypassed the Tabunok-Basak Pardo route.
The average bus fare costs P40 per person, depending on the distance to the destination.
With PUJ fare rates recently increased, Flores said it would be more convenient for commuters to take only one trip to their destination without the trouble of spending more and jumping from one PUJ to another.
“Which would you prefer? The connecting flight or direct flight? Besides, our franchise provides ‘pick-up and drop-off.’ If you were to conduct an inventory, there are no passengers at the CSCR. The passengers are waiting along N. Bacalso Ave. and because of the diversion, our passengers have resorted to (using) PUJs,” he said.
In another development, the Mambaling underpass has been vandalized twice since it opened last June 15.
The contractor had to paint over the graffiti that was sprayed on the walls near Cabreros St. last week. The graffiti, though, was back after last weekend.
Underpass project engineer Roy dela Cruz said he already asked Basak-San Nicolas Barangay Captain Titing Navarro to assign tanods to secure the area. (RTF, EOB)