CEBU CITY Hall will not have problems funding the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for the city, after the World Bank (WB) agreed to fund the project and earmarked $50 million for Manila’s and Cebu City’s BRT.

But before the funds are released, the economic feasibility and design of the 13-kilometer BRT line from Barangay Bulacao to Talamban will have to be approved by the City Government and the National Economic Development Authority (Neda).

Click here for Election 2010 updates

The $50-million funding is intended for the 50-kilometer BRT lines for Cebu and Manila. It is included in the $350-million Clean Technology Fund-Philippine Country Investment Plan (CTF-PCIP).

“Funding for the Cebu BRT is assured since this is already earmarked and pipelined under the CTF-CIP of the Philippines. World Bank has agreed to fund BRT projects for Manila and Cebu, subject to Neda’s approval of the detailed economic and financial feasibility,” City Planning and Development Coordinator Nigel Paul Villarete said yesterday.

The BRT will be funded by a National Government loan, with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as implementing agency.

Consultants from the Integrated Planning Transport (ITP) who are conducting pre-feasibility and feasibility studies on the BRT have yet to determine the final cost of the project.

But ITP Director Colin Brader said yesterday it is estimated to cost $4 million per kilometer, or some P2.4 billion for the 13-kilometer line.

The amount includes the infrastructure that will be set up such as bus stops, segregated road right of way, depots and ticketing office.

It does not include yet the buses, which Brader recommends should be provided, operated and maintained by private sector players, as is the case with bus companies operating in the city.

As for the bus fares, Brader assured the public that these will be around the same level as jeepney fares.

“We will be able to determine the bus fares by June when we submit our final report. We know enough at the moment to say that it should be in the same area as jeepney fares. It might be a little bit more but it should not be significantly more,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

While the private sector operates the buses, the City Government will be the owner of the infrastructure. Its role in the operation of the BRT will be limited to regulating the system, Brader said.

“The local government should control the way the system is being maintained and control the context of operations so it meets government objectives in terms of the service it gives to users and the people of Cebu City,” he continued.

The ITP is planning the full operation of the BRT by 2012.

It already submitted the interim report of the pre-feasibility study to WB and the City Government, and will submit the draft of the final report by next month.

Villarete said they will have to complete the feasibility study and the design of the system, which the City Council and the mayor have to approve before it is submitted to Neda for approval.

Once approved by Neda, it will still have to go through the appraisal process to qualify for Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“It has to go through the approval process of Neda and the appraisal process for ODA. But yes, the funding is assured already,” Villarete added.