THE role of mass transportation in a progressive city is essential. But with the worsening traffic condition in the city, Dabawenyos are looking for efficient yet affordable transportation.
Davao City, being the center of commerce not only in Davao Region but also in the entire Mindanao, is now gearing toward modernizing transportation through sustainable and eco-friendly public utility vehicles (PUVs).
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the city welcomed Best Bus.
Davao Light and Power Company (Davao Light), GET Philippines, and QEV Technologies in Spain recently launched the Business for Environmentally Sustainable Transformation (Best) Bus project launched the first fully-electric, free ride shuttle service in Mindanao on December 11, 2020.
Unlike ordinary buses, Best Bus marries modern convenience, functionality, and environmental sustainability. Not only are the buses fully electric with zero-emission, it also provides comfort and accessibility to the commuters. I personally experienced it firsthand, especially their full air-conditioning, smooth handling, and the Wifi available to passengers. Ramps and wheelchair slots were also available for persons with disabilities (PWD) passengers.
Five months since it was first launched, I finally had the chance to experience Best Bus.
On May 8, the people from Davao Light treated members of the media for a special Best Bus tour around downtown. Before getting on board, standard health protocols such as the wearing of face masks and face shield was observed.
Passengers were also told to download Best Pass App (GET-PASS App) on Google Play Store for Android phone users, or App Store for Apple users.
The Best Pass, a multi-functional pass that operates in a wide but unified ecosystem in the city, allows access for a shuttle service around the city. It has a QR Code that can contact trace passengers. It also serves as Davao City's ID system. It has Global Positioning System (GPS) for security, with 911, and Philippine Red Cross in case of emergency.
Once fully operational, the pass app would then notify riders of the bus schedule and real-time update of the buses whereabouts.
Payment is also done electronically via the QR code scanning. For now, riders can avail of the best bus for free until June 2021.
Currently, seven Best Buses are plying in the downtown area.
The Best Bus will take the routes: Downtown Ikot 1 (North Loop) will traverse from Magallanes, C.M. Recto, Acacia, Bajada, R. Castillo, Carpenter, Sta. Ana Avenue, C. Bangoy, and San Pedro Street (in front of City Hall of Davao)
For Downtown Ikot 2 (South Loop) will traverse from Magallanes (back of City Hall), Almendras Gym, Quezon Boulevard, Ramon Magsaysay, C. Bangoy, Quirino, and back to Magallanes.
Each bus can accommodate 30 passengers, including 20 seating and 10 standing. But because of the Covid-19 restrictions, only 15 passengers are allowed to go aboard. Each seat has a glass divider, not only to ensure distancing, but also protective equipment against possible droplets that carries the virus.
Members of the media and those others who have already experienced it took to social media their appreciation and positive reviews of the eco-friendly bus. It is such a comfortable ride especially during rush hour when everyone just wants to go home from the stress of school or work.
There will be more developments on the road, as we know it, in the coming years. By that time, we could only hope that the riding public will not only have a safe and more convenient transport experience but one that would also bring the city to a more sustainable future.